Labour Research May 2002


Union anxious over BT closures

The CWU communication workers union is deeply concerned at BT Retail's plans to shut 61 call centres over the next two to four years with the loss of 2,230 jobs.

The union said it was not convinced, despite intensive negotiations over the last two months, that BT can offer reasonable alternative job opportunities at the sites it has chosen to close.

Currently BT Retail has 150 call centres in 104 sites employing about 21,000 CWU members.

Jeannie Drake, deputy general secretary of the CWU, said: "The introduction of these changes will in many cases cause enormous problems for members, their families and their communities."

The union wants guarantees of alternative comparable job opportunities. "We believe the company has obligations to its people which it cannot ignore. This is a huge company with social obligations," she added.

The union says that it will oppose the programme if it does not secure the guarantees it seeks and is seeking a further top-level meeting with the company as a matter of urgency.

* Avon cosmetics workers in Northampton will not be calling in to work shortly. The US firm is to close its Northampton, UK factory and move production to Poland, with the loss of 465 jobs. Avon says costs in Poland are half of those in the UK.