Breakthrough deal to protect BT staff

BT has signed a groundbreaking deal with the Connect communications union to
protect the jobs of its UK workers if more jobs are exported overseas.

The deal, covering managerial and professional staff, includes a commitment
that workers will not face compulsory redundancy but will be redeployed within
the business if jobs are lost abroad through off-shoring or outsourcing.

The agreement will also place an onus on the company to work for the good
treatment of any new overseas workers performing outsourced work in
"developing countries".

The agreement was put together to allay union concerns over job security
sparked earlier this year, when BT set up two call centres in India that will
employ 2,200 staff by the end of 2003.

A spokesman for BT called the deal a positive and pragmatic way forward for
both the company and for staff.

Connect general secretary Adrian Askew said the deal was the result of close
co-operation between the union and BT.

"Connect members are keen to work with BT in turning this excellent
agreement into practical solutions. It places job security at the heart of the
company policy and demonstrates a responsible attitude to the developing
world," he said.

"We believe this is the first agreement of this kind and it sets an
admirable standard."

The deal was also welcomed by the Government. Employment minister Gerry
Sutcliffe said: "The agreement announced by Connect and BT shows that, by
unions and management working together, this issue can be handled in a manner
which is acceptable to the workforce in the UK and internationally."

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