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13,000 face axe as BT strives to cut costs.

Byline: KALYEENA MAKORTOFF Press Association newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk

BT IS to axe around 13,000 jobs as part of a revamped costcutting drive.

The company said the job losses would mainly affect back office and middle management roles, with two thirds of the cuts set to fall on UK staff. Remaining staff cuts are expected to impact upon BT's operations abroad.

Plans were also revealed to exit the BT headquarters in central London, though another site in the capital is expected to house its head office.

The move comes as BT looks to cut costs by around PS1.5bn by the final year of its three-year plan.

The telecoms firm added that it would be hiring around 6,000 new employees "to support network deployment and customer service".

BT has around 106,400 employees globally, with 82,800 in the UK.

BT, including its mobile phone business EE and at arm's length infrastructure business Openreach, employs 4,000 in Wales.

Its operations include those in Cardiff where it employs more than 1,000, Swansea with more than 600 and Bangor with 150.

A spokesperson for BT said: "There are no details at this stage of either the reduction in roles, or the new jobs, we have announced.

"We have been clear, however, that the changes will represent an investment in the jobs and skills needed to strengthen our networks and customer service."

The FTSE 100 firm saw its shares tank on the news, falling as much as 8.8% at the start of trading.

The announcement comes nearly a year after the company said it was to axe 4,000 jobs as part of a restructuring of its Global Services unit. BT chief executive Gavin Patterson said: "Decisions like this are not easy."

"We recognise that it is going to affect a lot of people, but ultimately we need to do these things to ensure that we remain a competitive business going forward and that we can benchmark our performance against peer companies," he told reporters.

He added that it was the "right thing for the business" and helps take BT "into its next chapter".

BT explained yesterday that it was making moves to simplify its operating model by "de-layering" its management structure and ensuring there are "fewer, bigger, more accountable leadership roles".

It was also trying to improve productivity across its core UK operations, including "process simplification and automation to reduce costs".

Philippa Childs, national secretary of the Prospect union, said the scale of the job cuts will come as a "devastating blow" to the managers and professionals it represents at BT.

"Many of the roles that BT is proposing to cut are highly skilled professionals and the loss of that expertise could impact BT's research and innovation capability," she said.

"We are also concerned that cutting such a large number of roles will inevitably impact those who remain in BT and could lead to work being pushed down to employees in lower grades."

Plans to ditch its London headquarters have been made as part of efforts to reduce inefficiencies which BT said were created by having too many sites across the UK.

Around 80% of its staff are currently based in around 50 locations, with some cities hosting multiple offices. BT said it would consolidate its offices, and focus on just 30 "modern strategic sites to create a more collaborative, open and customer-focused working culture". As for BT Centre, group chief financial officer Simon Lowth said: "We'll be looking at all options for the best future for that particular site, so (we're) very early in the process."

The strategic update came as BT released its full-year results which showed a 1% drop in revenue to PS23.7bn, while reported pre-tax profits rose 11% to PS2.6bn.

It booked a PS241m restructuring charge over the period, when it cut more than 2,800 roles mainly across managerial and back office staff.

BT said the move helped achieve PS180m in savings for the year.

The company also spent around PS22m on professional costs relating to the investigation into its Italian business.

The company has been dealing with the aftermath of an accounting scandal at its Italian division, which resulted in a PS530m write-down and a major fall in its share price last year.

Prime Minister Theresa May's official spokesman said: "This is a commercial decision taken by BT, but of course we understand that this will be an uncertain time for its employees and for their families.

"JobCentre Plus stands ready to support any workers and their families that may be affected.

"I think it's important to note from BT's announcement that it is planning to recruit 6,000 new staff, in particular engineers, apprentices and graduates to help improve infrastructure, customer services and cyber security."

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 11, 2018
Words:814
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