back to article BT job cuts start to bite ahead of March deadline

BT contractors are continuing to leave the firm ahead of the end of March deadline. The telco said in November that it would cut jobs by the end of March and that most of them would be contractors. Mark Williamson's weekly internal BT newsletter addressed concerns about contractors leaving the company. The email, seen by The …

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Paris Hilton

Shortsighted

They may not be able to afford the contractors, but how much can they afford not to have them?

During my tenure there a lot of key knowledge about their organically grown internal network was in the heads of contractors. It's all very well documenting something but pretty pointless when there's no-one left to read the document.

It will also mean the permies have to start picking up the extra work, not to mentioned the PR disaster that is looming (shh..don't mention the PH word). <joke>I'm glad I got out when I did, especially as I am now safely tucked up in the financial sector </joke>

Good luck to all the upcoming ex-BT contractors. I think you will find the market already super-saturated - you'll need to do a lot of work on your CV if it's going to stand out againt 1000 others for the same job.

PH - the dreaded Paris Hilton :P

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Who does the work

So, if they get rid of the contractors, who'll do all the work . The rest of BT are too busy having internal meetings and diversity trainig.

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Anonymous Coward

BT - Drop Phorm and perhaps regain some dignity

BT Should drop Phorm.. They are a millstone around their neck which causes BT to bleed customers continuously while they are associated with them.

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Anonymous Coward

Contractors Over paid

Now we know why contractors can charge more in the good times because they are most at risk of being unemployed in the bad times.

You made the cash in the good times so don't fucking moan now.

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Oh good.

BT are haemorrhaging customers at 250,000 in 3 months. I dont suppose you can blame that on a recession. I've not met anyone yet who's saving pennies by cutting the broadband. So presumably customers are voting against their asshole tactics (phorm, that wireless shit) with their feet. Long may it continue.

BT - still at the top of my list of companies that I would just love to see go under. Virgin (as NTL) used to occupy the number 2 slot (number2 / NTL, how appropriate..), but now they look like they may break BT I wish them all the best.

BT / phom, FOAD.

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Anonymous Coward

Offshoring

The only way BT ever go these days is to offshore, outsource and offshore again. That is the only way they have any idea of how to cut costs. There are not enough permanent members of BT left to do the work if they kick out all the contractors, so they are replaced (in the main) with poor quality, inexperienced and (over time) increasingly expensive offshoring options. BT is obsessed about moving work to India, and soon they may as well drop the "B" altogether.

Note this is not a comment from someone who is bitter about this, a few years ago I was replaced by the offshoring option in one part of BT, only to replace them in another part of BT because the standard they offered was so poor.

What goes around comes around....

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BT *OWN* Employment Agencies.

I used to work for BT for 7 years in total, half employed by Manpower and half by another outsourcer. BT cheat, plain and simple - they employ people through MANPOWER, which they OWN and then claim that the people were only "agency"...

The scum!

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@ Contractors Over paid

Who is moaning?

I'm glad I'm a contractor as can when I finish in my current role in April I can have the rest of the year off without having to worry about money. So are a lot of contractors I know.

You jealous f**k - get back in your cell, shut up and go shovel some more permie sh*t while the rest of us contractors lie back and enjoy the fruits of the recent boom.

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@It Wasn't Me

Read the article again. Openreach have lost 250,000 lines, that bit's the engineering department, not BT Retail, which is the bit that's considering Phorm.

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Pirate

Strange Practice Really!

This cutting contractors practice is really quite strange. Contractors are normally there to fill a role or gap where knowledge is either not known or deemed not worth learning by the permenant staff. The forced removal of contractors in this blanket style move is ultimately going to mean a loss of information that simply can't be taught in a few weeks.

Also, it's interesting to note that as BT says they're cutting contractors to save money, the only contractors leaving are the British ones. The number of offshore and onshore contractors from Indian contracting companies doesn't appear to be going down, and in a lot of cases it's actually going up as BT replace a team of 4 with a team of 12 offshore contractors.

I don't see the savings at all!

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Anonymous Coward

@Jamesthegill

Probably doesn't make much difference. BT==Phorm, no matter which department we're talking about. I've been happily recommending that people don't go with BT when considering broadband. I've probably only been responsible for 3 people not choosing BT, but, in the words of another unpleasant outfit, "every little helps".

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Die BT die!!

I used to be a contractor for BT and I have seen first hand how BT treat their customers. Its not Phorm nonsense that causes customers to leave, its the appauling service that BT wholesale actually provides for thier customers. They continually refuse to do their job and fix peoples connections and so people get a better service elsewhere. Then you have the home hub, a joke in itself.

If BT move their contractors offshore its one more excuse people have to leave their already crappy service. I am hoping this is spelling the end for BT as their are other companies out there who can now provide a better service for less. It'll also mean that we can have a different company responsable for laying the fibre optic wire. Like hmmm Virgin, who i know are far from perfect, but they already have alot of the required infastructure in place.

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@Contractors Over paid

And what the fuck stopped you from contracting when times were good?

Oh yeah, you were too lazy to actually learn some new shit and take a few exams to better yourself and your career.

Go earn your pension, you whiny twat.

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Paris Hilton

Openreach loses 250,00 lines? Huh?

How can Openreach "lose" lines (I mean apart from their lousy documentation)? Maybe if replaced by cable? But is that number believable for transfers to cable? Maybe TFA means that 250,000 copper lines are lying unbilled because nobody is using them (after all the companies that have folded). If so, not a sign of Openreach business failure.

PH would know; she's not lying unused.

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BT ethics

Expect the unexpected. Ian Livingstone is ex-Dixons, not a man promoted through the ranks of BT.

BT set up BT Mahindra. Then they set up preferred contract status for Infosys and Tata. They also set up preferred contractor status for Hayes (for typical individual specialist consultants based in the UK). Now they want to get rid of contractors.

BT need to remain competitive. However, these "contractors" they wish to disengage are actually the ones from Hayes. They will still keep the Infosys and Tata people. Where the ethics is concerning is these companies promise cheap off-shore services - however, BT get them to ship (not literal) people into the UK (still on their Indian salaries) and pay their expenses.

By all means, use off-shore services to compete with other companies. However, if people are "on-shore" then they should be paid market rates. It used to be that to get a work permit, it had to be proven that the firm tried and failed to employ someone in the UK/Europe at a market rate.

The government won't act, contractors are employees of limited companies. Unless they wind up those companies or take redundancy through some other mechanism they will not feature in statistics and the Government therefore doesn't care.

HSMP has been revised, the new scheme also needs revisiting in light of the state of the economy. The "boom" lasted more than 5 years, many of the early HSMP entrants are now permanent residents. This is fair and fine - however, this arrangement can't be continued in this new economic climate.

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@it wasn't me

Clearly somebody not reading the article. The 250,000 is OpenReach, and therefore copper loops (perhaps 1% of the total). They could be BT lines, they could be LLU and nothing directly to do with retail broadband services. Most probably it is companies and individuals trimming back on land lines they can do with out (and companies going broke - the 800 Woolworths stores that closed probably had several lines each).

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@ Contractors Over Paid

I left my last job (at a Dutch bank) under excellent terms, and that wasn't due to my work being unnecessary - my budget had simply been slashed, and my manager had been told to cut his. Three days after I left, the bank rang me up to tell me they wanted me back. It would seem that in my absence, they discovered how much my work was REALLY missed. Even though I am still waiting for the paperwork to be sorted out, I've been told the green light has ultimately been given by the right people, so I'm enjoying a well-deserved break at the moment.

What's my point? It's this: Contractors are employed to fill a real business need. Permies are not. When the proverbial hits the fan, it will be contractors that sort out the mess, while permies just complain (yet again) how little they are paid - while failing to make the connection between ability and reward. While the contractors go off and train themselves, get certified, improve their knowledge to the point where they're indispensable, the permies are still whining in the tea room - and wondering why management doesn't take them more seriously.

BT, as are a great many other businesses, run by the money men. They are not run by people who understand the business, or by people who understand (at a managerial level) what the consequences of firing people will have on their projects. Many of them, I would wager, do not even understand the importance of their own projects succeeding. By the time the dimwits at Mondial House realise that letting Virgin steal the market in high-speed broadband is a suicidal idea, it will be too late. Nobody will be using BT's lines, except for the odd OAP who won't really care about broadband because (s)he's still meeting their friends the old-fashioned way: Face to face. At that stage, BT will have almost zero cashflow, and will be completely unable to invest in their network to compete with Virgin. I can't say I feel sorry for them, mind you - BT have spent years shafting the customer - it's about time they got their come-uppance.

I've seen a lot of businesses fall for the outsourcing hype, too. It actually costs a LOT more than hiring some really skilled people as permies and paying them a REAL salary (100k), and having them run your business infrastructure. The average Indian is about 1/200th as effective as someone who speaks your language natively (in both human and networking terms), knows your business needs, lives in your timezone, and - most importantly - sits where you can find them. Many Indians I've had to deal with simply do not answer their e-mail, do not answer their phone or voicemail, and do not action their items until they are sometimes months (!) overdue. Quite frankly, I'm still amazed that people hire them, but that just shows how clueless your average CEO is these days - and how much the "bonus for cost cutting" culture really harms business.

One recent example from JobServe: I spotted a two-day contract for the BBC, requiring Solaris and Veritas Volume Manager skills. I didn't take it, because I wasn't available on such short notice (poor Auntie needed someone there the next day.) It seems that the BBC no longer keep their own in-house admins (or at least, their own admins are clueless), because there had been a big failure with this machine - and they were willing to pay a grand a day for someone external to come in and fix it *quickly*. What does that tell you about the BBC? It tells me they'd better tell Jonathan Ross to brush up on his UNIX skills - since they are loathe to get rid of him, no matter what he does, he may as well be doing something useful...

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@offshoring

BT's obsession with offshoring to India, or even onshoring the offshorers is thanks to fabulous dealings of Al-Noor Ramji, BT's CIO.

His policy of slashing BT's agency staff whilst replacing them with offshore worker seems to make fantastic financial sense, to him at least, did I mention he was on the board of directors at Tech Mahindra, the agency that supplys the offshore workers?

Not that gov.uk seem to be bothered or the BT shareholders, of course other governments seem to care about this kind of thing, when Al-Noor worked for Qwest in the US he did exactly the same thing, an illegal practice in the states and subsequently got investigated by the FBI.

How much longer before someone cottons on here I wonder, or BT realise offshoing is false economy

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Speaking as a contractor...

I have to agree with Aristotles; I didn't see any contractors moaning in the article, or in the comments for that matter. If you contract you know your heads first on the block when the job cuts come, which is why we charge the rates we charge; it's so we can weather the hard times. Let's face it, if a contractor moans when he gets made unemployed it's generally because he was too stupid to save money.

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Silver lining

The silver lining about BT getting rid of a lot of contractors at the same time is that we'll have a massive joint leaving do next week :-) Then it'll be time for some time off because, contrary to BT, I've actually managed my cash flow quite well and can afford a few months off.

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Bad to worse

So BT is going to lurch from bad to worse with resource problems then? I'd better stick with TalkTalk.

Just to put my tuppence in, contractors are by nature, more focused on their jobs as that is what they are employed and paid to do. Permies on the other hand are involved with everything to do with the organisation from politics to managing contractors. Yes, some contractors are overpaid but by and large, contractors are paid fairly considering they have no holiday pay, no sick pay, no pension, no benefits, no job security and incur extortionate professional fees.

Having been on both sides, I know which I prefer - would you be paid £300 a day for 6 months living in a suitcase with all the stress of looking for a new job at the end of that or £36K a year with all the trimmings, job security and a home to go to every night?

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Anonymous Coward

I too am a contractor

And I too charge rates based on the presumption that there will be times when I am not working, and therefore not earning.

Sometimes one contract ends on Friday and another starts on Monday. More usually it is 3-4 weeks between contracts. Once it was 15 weeks (some by choice some by market).

And when a contract ends, either according to schedule or through cost re-alignment I don't moan, or whine, or demand God explain why He/She/They hates me, instead I see the managers / project leaders / other people I have worked with and say something on the lines of:

"Well, I'm off now, thanks very much for the opportunity to work here, I have really enjoyed it at <company> and I hope you have been happy with my work. Here are my / my agency details I would appreciate it if you thought of me when another requirement comes up / the budgets are released. Here is my phone number in case you have any problems."

Then I shake hands and leave with a happy smile and then phone the agency.

If the company I have just left does phone me about something I answer their questions. I don't go well out of my way, but a few minutes now is nothing to invest in my future. And besides, generally I have got on well with these people so why would I not help them?

Hopefully the market will not be too painful, and hopefully I will continue to earn enough money to not have to eat into the emergency-pay-the-bills-while-not-earning fund but that *is* what it is there for.

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I'm one of the 250,000

And it *was* because of Phorm.

I was originally going to ditch BT for broadband only, but had so much trouble getting a MAC from them that I dumped them for telephony as well.

That, and because you only have BT's word that you won't be Phormed if you switch ISPs on your existing landline.

And the secret Phorm trials show haw much you can trust BT these days.

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BT are a joke.

As the national carrier they are nothing short of an embarrasment.

They're obviously having terrible staff shortage problems... just try to get a responce to any email sent via their site... no chance.

I wouldn't touch BT with a barge pole. I'm constantly amazed that people still put up with them.

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Coat

Looking like Mumbai

As an ex-BT Global Services tech bod I'm certainly glad I decided to pick up sticks and tell BT where to stuff there very well paid permanent job in June last year.

I could already see the writing on the wall, and after I left, Mssr Berrault or whichever nameless turd it was, announced all the major cuts I knew I had made the right choice. At least I wasn't competing, when looking for work, against the veritable flood of applicants that now exists.

My current boss is getting cv's (resumes for any yanks) from BT staff left right and centre for one job. Not to mention all the agencies trying to handle the influx of new applicants.

BT are the cause of their own ruin, the rank and file hate the management because the management give themselves hefty pay rises whilst riffraff get nothing for performing outstanding work. BT didn't care when I left, although my management did and nearly had a fit when I handed in my resignation.

for all this, the place where I used to work for BT is according to my ex-coworkers is "looking like Mumbai", everything has been outsourced.

BT only have themselves to blame, wont ever work for them again. jacket because I took my jacket and left.

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Anonymous Coward

@@offshoring 11th March 2009 10:18

<BT CIO>? I never thought I'd hear that name again. I remember when he used to be the CIO at an investment bank in the City. He was a useless, buzzword touting vacuous ideas monkey in my opinion way back then. He left to go to some tech outfit in the US I believe, and it seems he's returned to haunt the corridors of UK plc once more.

He was also keen on outsourcing to (what we believed to be his buddies located in) India back then if I recall rightly.

Leopard doesn't change it's spots it seems.

The above is entirely my opinion and I damn well stand by it.

@Bad to worse

Paid GBP 300 per day for 6 months? 500 more like. I'd have a word with whomever is sorting your rates out. It translates to 50k +bonus vs about 130k from my personal experience. Choosing ain't hard either. In case you hadn't noticed you also don't get job security if you're a permie in the current conditions - just ask 650,000 Americans per month.

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@ Contractors Over paid

Nice to see the old contractor vs. permie prejudices alive and well (on both sides!).

You gets paid your money and you takes your choice - enjoy it! :-)

Of course BT *can't* go under since it's welded into much of the telecomms infrastructure of this country, and so one way or another the gov will find a way to keep their friends in the boardroom propped up whatever braindead business decisions they may have made in the past...

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Anonymous Coward

@Contractors Over paid

grow yourself a backbone, permie

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Anonymous Coward

EX BT contractor here

Got out recently. I'm not going to say anything bad about BT, since frankly i don't think any other company with their size, role, and history would be any better.

I will say something bad about Hays though. I've never had the misfortune to deal with such collective incompetence, and i wasn't the only one. Lost documents, incorrect contracts, messed up VAT payments, arrogant jumped up telephone monkeys masquerading under the title "senior consultant" the list goes on

May they live in interesting times.

Posted anon, to protect the innocent.

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Just to add another comment...

I thought the new Microsoft ad very interesting in that they have vox popped current BT head honcho Ian Livingstone for a few comments. It is especially telling that his view is that investing in the correct technology saves BT around £10m a year thereby delivering improved profits to the business and shareholders...

But he very clearly fails to make any mention of the selection of correct technologies benefitting the service delivery to the customer in any way whatsoever.

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Boffin

Just out of curiosity

How much do the 'tractors on here usually put by for a rainy day? assuming x=1 months bills

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Law
Paris Hilton

they should be worried

I hate Virgin Media... even more so than BT... but I'm being forced to move over to Virgin at my new address in a week or two, basically because I can't get faster than 1mb at the new place using adsl, the exchange isn't adsl2+ yet, yet in a villiage area, Virgin have a fibre cabinet on my road, and will offer me 20mb broadband, mid-range tv package, and a phone at less cost than bt line rental and basic broadband with o2... even with their 75% 5-hour throttling should I go over 3gb at peak, that will still be 5 times faster than what BT have to offer..... it's a disgrace really... and it's no wonder they are losing customers!

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Anonymous Coward

rainy days = 6-12 months

I have enough money away to maintain current living standards for about 12 months if there was no other money coming in, however half of that has been put away with the intention of buying things rather than paying bills.

Also, to be honest we could probably live on my partner's salary alone. We would have to make cutbacks but we always aimed at both of us earning enough money so that only one of us *needs* to work at any time in order to still pay the bills and eat.

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Anonymous Coward

@BT are a joke.

National carrier? they were privatised in the 1980s. They still have a stranglehold on ADSL and if you want a new line they sign you up to a 12 month contract (I had no phoneline in my property).

Cable isn't in rural areas, so there's no choice.

The regulators are probably best drinking buddies with BT management.

So while the regulator says they're providing alternatives thanks to local loop unbundling, the reality is that every single operator that wants to offer an unbundled service has to install their kit into the exchange.

Can you imagine what would happen if gas or electric companies had to install new lines and pipes to provide an alternative to your local electricity supplier?

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about HAYS

in their defence I had excellent dealing with HAYS whilst at BT. Even their MD is approachable, so they can't be all bad.

Had the odd lost timesheet etc. but nothing that wasn't sorted out in a few days. I do miss being paid weekly though :(

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lost 250,000 lines

good news, hope they go under.

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Black Helicopters

@AC - @BT are a joke

"The regulators are probably best drinking buddies with BT management"

Absolutely right! BT bring crappy products to market which totally fail EMC regulations in their droves, yet Ofcom fail to regulate.

I think that there is some serious deep-thoat action going on behind closed doors. BT can get away with anything they want and Ofcom seen to like taking it from "Daddy"

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Heart

Raw nerve?

Wow... what a reaction.

Interesting...

I did 4 years with manpower (slave drivers for BTGS) and my 4 years as a telephone engineer... Be a shame to see em struggle, they are a decent company but very very very badly managed! and unfortunately customers get abused...

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Air India

I worked for BT for over 40 years lately on a cruical network maintenance function 24/7/365. Out of hours when some cruical tool systems failed we could call out the appropriate BT person to sort it. Without some tools the network could quickly go pear shaped if faults go unnoticed.

Then they switched to an Indian call center. Air India as we called it were not very brilliant. How many people does this failure effect, we only had 3 on for the whole UK, 3 I say, then 3 working days, not urgent they say. Trying to convince them it can effect anywhere in the UK cuts no ice.

We had to keep a list of old cleared faults, with ref no, and say like this old fault and then they woulod sort it reasonably quick day or night.

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Jobs Halo

A better route.

Instead of reducing the workforce by such large numbers which in turn could reduce the speed in which faults can be fixed all BT need to do is reduce the wages at the top end.

Ian could manage on £300,000 instead of £550,000 the there is the person who had a £150,00 pay rise when Ian took charge add to this the 50% pay increase to those who are on the board of directors including Patricia Hewitt and the workforce jobs are safe and BT saved money.

Simple Maths if you actually remove some top places where there is always double ups the saving can be considerably higher.

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User's perspective

I am a user of BT's services, both at home and at work (my employer outsourced IT to BT) and from a work point of view, it seems that, at the moment, when a contractor's contract comes to an end, it's not renewed and BT tries to use retrained 'poleclimbers' (the guys who used to climb the telephone poles) in place of contractors because they can't get rid of them for some reason. However, these guys, even retrained, cannot replace someone who is a senior project manager with experience of delivering large scale projects. It's about time BT was given the option of getting rid of staff it can't use any more due to technology change.

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Anonymous Coward

@User's perspective

"BT tries to use retrained 'poleclimbers' (the guys who used to climb the telephone poles) in place of contractors because they can't get rid of them for some reason."

I think they probably can but just don't choose to in order to make a cost saving. The retrained poleclimber will be cheaper than the contractor, I would guess. The cost will be borne by the customer (I don't know I'm not one) if the poleclimber is not up to the job.

Any company can make people redundant because their job isn't needed anymore AFAIK but many years of poleclimbing could equate to mucho redundancy pay.

Just had a thought: using retrained poledancers instead would make things more interesting, titter ...

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Unhappy

@Alan & @Florence Stanfield

@Alan

"It's about time BT was given the option of getting rid of staff it can't use any more due to technology change."

Like the Post Office, BT Unions are strong (well, not as strong as they were, but relatively strong). It'd be very hard to keep 10,000 contractors on board and sack 1000s of field staff.

Besides, companies are putting up with the poor service so BT won't change unless they start losing significant numbers of customers...

@Florence Stanfield

"if you actually remove some top places where there is always double ups the saving can be considerably higher"

Have you read Animal Farm ? Power corrupts - people at the top look after themselves... for example look at that £700,000 RBS pension for Sir Fail A Lot !

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Anonymous Coward

Just another BT contracting Minion facing the chop.......

Perhaps if BT cut back on its completely useless advertising and marketing campaigns featuring that gormless looking bloke, his po-faced girlfriend and her sickening crotch spawn they might have a bit more cash to spend on keeping their rickety old phone network running.

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Anonymous Coward

Wonder if BT will lay off these 'consultants' ?

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=196083&sectioncode=26

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