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MPs accuse BT of 'exploiting low wages in China'

Trying to save Marconi jobs

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MPs have accused BT of "exploiting low wages in China" following the telco's decision to select suppliers of its new digital phone network from overseas.

They've called on the North West Regional Development Agency (NWRDA) and the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) to work with the telco and unions to help save 300 hi-tech jobs at Marconi in Liverpool.

UK telecoms equipment maker Marconi was expected to get a slice of the massive £10bn contract to build BT's next-generation 21st Century Network (21CN) project. But although its gear was up to scratch Marconi couldn't match rivals on price.

Last month Marconi announced that as a result of failing to win the contract it would axe around 800 workers in the UK - losing some 450 jobs in Coventry and a further 300 in Liverpool.

Publishing an early day motion - which allows backbench MPs to voice their opinion on a subject and to canvass support from other MPs - six Merseyside MPs said: "This House notes with great concern the proposed closure of the Marconi factory in Edge Lane, Liverpool, and consequent heavy job losses; deplores British Telecom's decision to order their 21st century replacement from China, exploiting low wages in that country...[and supports] efforts to salvage 300 or so hi-tech jobs on the site."

BT was asked to comment but did not return a call prior to publication. ®

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