Belfast office avoids axe in BT cull, but future of other NI sites in doubt
The future of two BT offices in Northern Ireland are in doubt after the telecoms giant announced it was cutting its number of premises from 300 to 30.
But the BT Group, which has 3,230 staff locally, confirmed its Belfast building would be preserved as one of 30 locations described as "workplaces for the future".
Around 1,500 people work at the Belfast Riverside Tower offices, while there are 300 staff in Derry and 200 in Enniskillen, with the remainder of employees working from home or as engineers and field staff, such as in its Openreach broadband team.
The business also has a separate office at Telephone House in the Belfast, as well as buildings in Enniskillen and Derry.
BT said there were no job losses planned as part of the consolidation.
A spokesman said that in locations such as Belfast, the group may refurbish existing offices or move to new buildings.
He added: "We have announced the first eight key locations of a UK-wide programme that will revitalise our UK workspaces and create modern, future-fit buildings we can be proud of.
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"There will be more locations and we're still working on finalising those. Our workspaces will be better for our people, better for our business and better for our customers.
"In addition to increasing efficiency and productivity across the business, the programme will ultimately improve our ability to better serve our customers and improve customer experience.
"There are no closures being proposed in today's announcement."
But Noel McClean, the general secretary of trade union Prospect, which represents staff at BT, insisted the announcement had left much "unsaid".
"Moving from an estate of more than 300 locations to around 30 by 2023 poses a huge logistical challenge for all concerned," he said.
"For example, closing each existing building will require a period of consultation and considerable support for affected staff, from both the company and the union.
"Therefore, it is imperative that Prospect maintains a close and regular dialogue with the company as the programme unfolds."
Seven other key locations were announced yesterday - Edinburgh, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Ipswich, London and Manchester.
BT said its programme - dubbed a "workplace improvement and consolidation programme" - was the biggest of its type to be carried out in the UK.
Last year the company announced 13,000 job losses among back office staff and middle management UK-wide.
According to its results for the year to the end of March, which were released last month, around 4,000 roles were removed during the year, with most going from the global services and corporate units.
But the company said it did not break down job losses into regions and had no further information on whether jobs in Northern Ireland had been affected.
The company also outsourced its facilities management, projects and construction teams in April, resulting in around 1,900 employees transferring out of the business.