BT, Britain’s largest telecoms business, has declared that it is slashing 13,000 jobs. This is on top of 4,000 job cuts last year.
It wants to cut costs by £1.5 billion, although there are also plans to hire an extra 6,000 engineers and call centre workers.
Most of the job losses will be among administrative and managerial staff.
“The scale of these job cuts is higher than had previously been speculated on and will come as a devastating blow,” said the Prospect union which represents the grades most affected.
It added, “Prospect will be pressing BT to minimise job losses and to ensure that any redundancies are voluntary. BT must take into account the potential impact of increased workloads and stress to staff if these changes take place.”
The CWU union said, “The announcement of job losses is disappointing. We will, of course, hold urgent talks with the company to understand any implications.
“However BT has made it clear to us that they plan major investment in front-line engineering and call centres, which we of course welcome.
“We are therefore confident any job losses will have little impact on CWU represented grades and we welcome BT’s plans to invest and grow in the front-line areas in which our members are mainly employed.”
Last year BT lost huge amounts because of corruption in its Italian division, BT Italia.
News of possible charges over the scandal saw £8 billion wiped off the company’s value as its share price fell.
In January 2017 BT reduced the value of its Italian unit by £530 million after it announced it had discovered years of “inappropriate behaviour”.
Bosses said they had uncovered evidence of improper accounting methods, leading to “the overstatement of earnings in our Italian business over a number of years”.
The head of BT Europe, Corrado Sciolla, resigned.
Then last July BT paid out £225 million to Deutsche Telekom and Orange to avoid legal action over the same scandal.
Even now shareholders are taking no losses. While the jobs go the company maintains it will keep its dividend payments at the present level for the next two years.
Patrick Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity, remarked: "The CWU response seems less than a full statement of solidarity with other workers. Prospect members and others affected might reasonably expect greater support. These job losses have a lot to do with mismanagement at BT and it is significant that it is the workers rather than the Board or investors who are paying the price. It's sad to note that BT had 240,000 workers when it was privatised in 1984 but now has fewer than 100,000."