BT poised to axe 800

BT is believed to be scrapping up to 800 jobs as part of the restructuring announced last year and could face arbitration from its workers’ union.

The job losses stem from “budget reductions” in the UK Markets division, which covers business and consumer products, and services and marketing. So far, 100 jobs have been axed from both the small business sales units and the account management units. About 65 have also gone from the corporate client support unit.

The Communication Workers Union, representing BT members, is unhappy about the way the company has handled the cuts and is considering arbitration proceedings.

CWU national officer David Johnson was briefed only 24 hours before the cuts hit on March 9.

CWU Home Counties chairman Peter Earle says 45 of his members have been affected: “Normally industrial relations run smoothly but this was a major shock. I am not happy BT followed procedures properly.”

Earle will decide whether to implement a formal disagreement process which could culminate in arbitration after receiving a reply to his complaints.

A BT spokesman confirms what is termed a “redeployment programme” is underway but says that the number of positions affected is unlikely to be near the 800-mark.

He adds: “BT UK Markets is identifying areas which are growing and those which are not and rebalancing the headcount accordingly. The division employs 12, 350 and there are no plans to reduce that.”

The telecoms giant maintains some of the positions being cut are vacant and staff affected from other cuts will join a redeployment scheme which searches for jobs within BT.

The company announced a reorganisation of its business last year aimed at driving growth and increasing efficiency.

At the time, Bill Cockburn, BT managing director, refused to say if it would cost jobs.

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