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NTL confirms 6,000 job losses

Yesterday it was just 'speculation', staff told

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NTL has confirmed it is to axe around 6,000 UK jobs while outsourcing a "significant number" as part of its merger with Telewest.

In a statement today, NTL chief exec Steve Burch said the cableco is to "accelerate our integration program" so it can save £250m a year by the end of 2007.

"Part of this process will involve outsourcing a significant number of jobs, where employment would be transferred to an external organisation, as well as actual job reductions. In total, this will involve around 6,000 employees by the end of 2007."

Around 80 per cent of the job cuts will be carried out over the next 12 months.

But only yesterday NTL was telling employees that reports of the job cuts were still "speculation" and nothing was official.

In a memo seen by The Register and sent to staff yesterday from Burch and COO Neil Berkett, the pair said: "You may have seen speculation in the press over the weekend in respect to ntl:Telewest announcing 6,000 colleagues being affected by outsourcing and redundancies. We would like to emphasise that this is speculation and not an official release. We have not communicated our intentions to any external party at all at this stage. It does, however, include some elements of truth.

"We are sorry you have read this in the media, but can assure you that it was always our intention to talk to our people first, our shareholders second, and then the press.

"As part of the integration process, following completion of the merger, we are currently working hard to bring our two businesses together. This involves conducting a comprehensive review of our operational procedures in all areas.

"We understand the level of uncertainty people are feeling, particularly following media coverage over the weekend. We have not confirmed any information to the press and what appeared was speculation."

But NTL's ham-fisted handling of the situation has angered unions who were "surprised and dismayed" that staff had to find out about the job losses from the press rather than the company.

Speaking yesterday, Communication Workers Union (CWU) assistant secretary Brian Healy said it had "already raised concerns with the company and are seeking assurance that there will be no compulsory redundancies".

"We are also lobbying hard for the retention of customer contact centre jobs in the UK. There has been talk of outsourcing these jobs and, if this is the case, the CWU wants reassurances that outsourcing will be limited to within the UK allowing the transfer of workers and their terms and conditions of employment through the TUPE regulations and minimising UK redundancies," he said. ®

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