BT jobs bombshell: Suffolk staff reassured

BT today assured staff at its huge Suffolk complex that massive staff cuts announced this morning will have a limited impact on the centre.

BT today assured staff at its huge Suffolk complex that massive staff cuts announced this morning will have a limited impact on the centre.

The telecoms giant - which has its research and development headquarters at Martlesham Heath - said it had already cut 4,000 jobs, leaving a further 6,000 to go between now and March.

Managers at BT's offices across Suffolk were today still waiting to hear how the restructuring would affect them, however the company said there would it was not planning any compulsory redundancies.

The job losses will be mainly among agency workers and sub-contractors, the firm announced today - leaving many small firms at Adastral Park which rely on BT for their business fearing the worst.

A BT spokesman said: “We are not aware of any big specific plans for BT in the regions.”

He said BT currently employs about 160,000 staff - 110,000 direct staff and 50,000 contractors, consultants, and agency staff. This is being reduced by 10,000, including 4,000 direct jobs.

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“This programme is primarily about BT reducing its dependence on consultants and contractors,” he said.

“Our reliance on them will come down by around 12pc whereas our direct staff numbers will come down by around four pc.

“Thousands of direct staff leave BT every year so this year it is really about us not replacing a large number of those people.

“In previous years, we have tended to recruit as many new people as leave but this year we want a net reduction of 4,000 direct staff.

“We will therefore achieve the reduction in our direct staff largely by natural turnover. We have achieved reductions in staff in previous years through voluntary schemes.”

The spokesman also stressed that the plans to create a multi-million pound innovation park, homes and university accommodation at Adastral Park and land around it will not be affected.

The Martlesham Heath complex employs more than 4,000 highly skilled technicians, scientists and researchers, the key part of the company's research and development role, inventing many of the technologies and products which keep BT as a world leader.

If cuts are made across the board within the group, it could mean 160 people losing their jobs at the site.

Ian Livingston, BT's chief executive, said 7,000 workers left the firm every year so he did not envisage any compulsory redundancies in the latest round of cuts.

The cuts will affect head office functions, support staff and customer services. Mr Livingston said there were now fewer complaints from customers and fewer visits by engineers, so efficiencies could be made.

The company's latest results showed its BT Retail, BT Wholesale and Openreach businesses were performing on or ahead of target. Second quarter pre-tax profits were £590 million - 11pc down.

The job losses add to a week of gloom on the employment front, with thousands of redundancies announced in recent days and official unemployment edging closer to the politically sensitive two million mark.

FASTFACTS: BT at Martlesham

- BT, then part of the Post Office, relocated its main research centre from Dollis Hill, in London, to Martlesham in 1969.

- The new and exciting facility with its modern architecture and distinctive tower was developed to provide purpose-built laboratories for engineers, scientists and researchers to work on pioneer ground-breaking communications technologies.

- Over the years the site has been the key base for research on many manor innovations - including the invention and development of the UK's digital TV system.

- The site was renamed Adastral Park in 1999, expanding into a home for a wide range of business initiatives, education and skills, and economic development projects.

- It is one of the biggest centres for jobs and commercial activity in the region and now home to more than 20 other companies.

- BT also has offices in Ipswich and previously had a large office centre at Anzani House in Felixstowe.

ADASTRAL Park and land around it has been earmarked by BT for an ambitious project to create a multi-million pound innovation park, homes and university accommodation.

The exciting scheme has been lodged with planners - but there will be no decision on it for some time.

Today the project was not in jeopardy from BT's cost-cutting with the masterplan being part of its future development and unlikely to be needed well into the economy's forecast recovery in the years ahead.

The scheme will provide for BT's future needs, create more than 1,000 jobs, and include 2,000 homes, sports and leisure facilities, a new primary school and a health centre, hotel and a renewable energy plant.

Adastral Park extends to around 100 acres but the company also owns some 250 acres of additional land to the south and east, some of it farmland, woodland, and some used for quarrying aggregates.

The proposal would push the value of Adastral Park to the area's economy to more than £1billion a year.

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