A memorandum warned staff that they should not leave work to visit doctors, dentists or opticians. If they do, they must make up the lost time. Staff shortages caused by redundancies and holidays have meant managers getting tough with switchboard operators they believe are 'abusing' the system.
Pat Dwyer, national officer of the Union of Communication Workers, said: 'BT is bleeding the staff and customers with record profits of pounds 96 a second and now will not allow staff to donate blood.'
A BT spokesman said: 'It has always been our policy to encourage staff to give blood and we have always been flexible, but service to the customer will suffer if staff are away at inconvenient times.'
Margaret Savage, BT's employee relations adviser, has told union leaders in a letter: 'BT . . .would not wish to discourage any employees from giving blood . . . the final decision to allow any casual time off for any reason is with the line manager.'