BT pulls the plug on 2,200 jobs at its call centres

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The Independent Online

BT confirmed yesterday that it plans to axe 2,200 jobs as part of a major revamp of its call centres that will see the closure of more than half its sites across Britain.

BT confirmed yesterday that it plans to axe 2,200 jobs as part of a major revamp of its call centres that will see the closure of more than half its sites across Britain.

Of BT's 104 call centres, 53 will be closed over the course of the next two years, another eight will be kept open for four years before being shut down, while six centres will be kept open for specialist functions.

The company, which has already shut 7 sites, said it would spend £100m over the next two years on transforming its remaining 30 call centres into "next generation" operations.

The move, which had already been flagged last month, will see BT's call centre staff shrink to 13,600 from 15,800 over the coming two years although there will be no compulsory redundancies.

"In close consultation with the unions, we are exploring every possible avenue to ensure that most people can be relocated to next-generation sites which are within travelling distance. Where that is not possible, we are looking at alternative options across BT Group, including non-call centre work," said Patricia Vaz, BT's managing director of customer service.

Of the 2,200 job losses, the company expects around 1,000 will have taken place by the end of March next year with the balance falling in the following year. Those initial 1,000 cuts, however, are included in the previously announced 13,000 job cuts the company is making across its BT retail division between 2000 and 2003.

"Even though this will mean upheaval for many of our people, it is a step we cannot shy away from if we are to ensure BT's call-centre operations are kept in-house and are given the capabilities to achieve the twin goals of industry-best customer service and increased efficiency," Ms Vaz said.

BT said it expected the first wave of site closures to happen this October but noted that each site would be given six months' notice.

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