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British Telecom Group staff redundancies

Volume 697: debated on Monday 21 June 2021

The petition of the residents of the constituency of Glasgow East,

Declares that, during the coronavirus pandemic, people have undoubtedly spent more time at home with more people using their Wi-Fi for home working and home schooling; further that, throughout the pandemic, BT, Openreach and EE employees have worked tirelessly to keep us all connected and online; further that MPs from across this House will have received countless emails from BT staff and customers who are concerned with the plans set out to make thousands of BT employees redundant, close hundreds of workplaces and give no pay offer; further that the Communications Workers Union is standing by and is ready to hold negotiations with the BT Group on behalf of workers, hoping to find a solution; and further that the UK Government should engage with the BT Group in order to prevent the thousands of redundancies about to hit hardworking individuals whilst we are in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to engage with the BT Group to avoid the compulsory redundancies of thousands of hardworking and dedicated staff members.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by David Linden, Official Report, 20 April 2021; Vol. 692, c. 952.]

[P002660]

Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Matt Warman):

I regret any loss of jobs in the UK as a result of redundancy, and I very much appreciate the efforts of BT staff to keep communication lines open during a period where many people have relied on them to work or learn from home.

The Government regularly engage with BT about a range of topics, including its UK workforce, at both the official and ministerial levels. Ultimately, however, BT is a private company, therefore decisions about its structure and employment are a matter for its board. I am encouraged that BT’s approach is to minimise redundancies through natural attrition and to provide opportunities to re-skill and redeploy workers whenever possible, and I will continue to engage with BT to encourage it to, where possible, minimise its compulsory redundancies. I welcome the discussion between both sides and hope that they are able to reach an agreement.

This Government are committed to boosting job creation. The “Plan for Jobs” announced during the summer economic update makes up to £30 billion available with a clear goal to create, protect, and support jobs, and to spur the UK’s recovery following covid-19. The plan includes three main points: supporting people to find the jobs that are out there, creating new jobs through investing in our infrastructure and housing, and protecting jobs by revitalising the hard-hit sectors upon which many jobs depend.

More generally, the Government are committed to delivering nationwide gigabit connectivity as soon as possible, and is investing £5 billion to deliver gigabit-capable services to the hardest to reach parts of the UK. In the last year alone, 22,000 jobs were created by the UK’s largest telecoms companies as we look to build back better from the covid-19 pandemic.