BT Group to sack 4,000

  • As INEC Chairman promises better polls than 2015

Troubled British telecoms giant BT said Thursday it will axe 4,000 jobs worldwide in a new cost-cutting drive,  after posting sliding profits in a “challenging” year.

The positions will be cut across three divisions, which comprise global services, group functions, and technology, services and operations, BT said in its annual results statement.

The group, which currently employs 102,500 staff and operates in 180 countries, will take a one-off restructuring charge of £300 million ($388 million, 357 million euros).

Meanwhile, pre-tax profit dived by a fifth to £2.35 billion in the financial year to the end of March, hit by an Italian accounting scandal, troubles at its Openreach broadband unit, and challenging trade both at home and abroad.

“Technology trends mean that we are now less dependent on owning physical local network assets around the world, creating the opportunity to reposition Global Services as a more focused digital business,” said chief executive Gavin Patterson.

The group was, therefore, restructuring its  Global Services division and speeding up and expanding its cost transformation programmes, he said.

“This will help offset market and regulatory pressures and create the capacity for future investment,” Patterson said.

BT added Thursday that its remuneration committee has stripped Patterson of his 2016/2017 bonus, totalling £338,398, as a result of a string of problems.

In January, BT revealed news of an accounting scandal at its Italian division which cost the group £530 million.

And in March, regulator Ofcom hit BT with a bill of around £350 million in fines and compensation following delays to high-speed cable installations by its Openreach broadband unit.

“The past year has been challenging,” noted remuneration committee chairman Tony Ball in a separate statement.

“Unfortunately our performance has been significantly affected by the accounting irregularities in our Italian business, the issues that arose in Openreach … and the significant challenges we faced in the UK public sector and international corporate markets.”

The committee had made “a number of difficult decisions this year in light of these circumstances and exercised its discretion accordingly,” Ball said.

Openreach maintains tens of millions of copper and fibre lines connecting telephone exchanges to homes and businesses across the UK.

In the meantime, the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the commission is committed to making future elections in the country better than the 2015 exercise.

Yakubu made the pledge when he received the new United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Stuart Symington at INEC headquarters on Wednesday in Abuja.

He expressed gratitude to the U.S. Government for its commendation of the 2015 polls.

According to him, you have noted that the elections were well organised and were of international standard and accepted, contrary to situation in the past where there were protests on the street after elections.

“After the 2015 elections, there were jubilations on the streets and this further underscored the achievement of the commission and the steps that Nigeria has taken towards consolidating its democracy.

“We appreciate your kind words; 2015 was a defining moment for Nigeria elections, but we want to assure you that the commission is conscious of its responsibility and we are committed to making future elections even better.

“It is for that reason we are have taking some steps in ensuring that the 2019 general elections are better that 2015 general elections,’’ Yakubu said.

He said that one of the steps being taken was proper planning.

“We have been planning ahead for 2019 general elections and beyond, and we have done so in many other areas in two ways.’’

He disclosed that the commission would, from next week, commence the process of implementing its “2017-2021 Strategic Plan’’.

The chairman said that the commission would also clean up voter register, conclude ongoing continuous voter registration in 774 local governments before the 2019 general elections, and continue the exercise later.

He also listed the fixing of specific dates ahead of the 2019 general elections as well as deepening the use of technology as other steps being taken to improve on the country’s electoral system.

Yakubu pledged that the commission would continue to work more closely with the US embassy to strengthen the country’s democracy and electoral process.

Punch with additional report from Citizen