BT threatens sack for senior managers: First compulsory redundancies loom

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The Independent Online
BT WARNED yesterday that it will start sacking senior managers unless sufficient numbers come forward for voluntary redundancy. This would be the first time the company has made any staff compulsorily redundant.

About 35 of BT's 170 managers at director level earning more than pounds 50,000 have already been approached to take redundancy under the plan to 'cut from the top down'.

In total 6,900 senior managers out of BT's 32,000 management-grade employees will be targeted for 'significant' reductions. The company said it had been forced to issue the unprecedented threat because not enough were volunteering to leave under its job reduction programme.

In the past two years almost 28,000 engineers and telephone operators have accepted voluntary redundancy but only 876 senior managers.

BT is seeking 15,000 job losses among its 153,000-strong workforce in 1994/5 as part of its continuing efficiency drive.

Michael Hepher, BT's group managing director, said: 'We will do everything we can to encourage sufficient volunteers but we must face the possibility that, if there are too few volunteers, we will have to move away from a purely voluntary approach for senior managers.'

The redundancy programme cost BT pounds 442m in 1992/3 and pounds 150m in the first six months of the current financial year. The average salary of the director-level managers now being asked to leave is pounds 76,000, although a number earn more than pounds 100,000.

A senior manager with 10 years' service will receive 40 weeks' pay; someone with 25 years' service approaching retirement could receive three years' salary.

BT would not say how many of the 6,900 senior managers would lose their jobs but if the total target is applied evenly it would be between 1,000 and 1,500.

A spokeswoman said that unless sufficient volunteers had come forward by the end of June, BT might start having to make managers compulsorily redundant.

BT has already announced that it intends to reduce staffing levels by 15,000 in each of the financial years 1993/4 and 1994/5. So far this year only 9,245 have accepted redundancy.