• Several jobs will be eliminated as BT completes its fiber broadband rollout
  • BT CEO plans to cut expenses by $3.7 billion annually by 2025
  • Union representing BT managers expressed concerns over the size of layoffs

British telecom company BT announced its plans to reduce its global labor force by around 42% by 2030, impacting as many as 55,000 employees and contractors.

The latest layoffs will also affect 10,000 jobs, which are being replaced by artificial intelligence (AI), as well as BT employees and contractors provided by a third party.

The telecoms firm, which currently employs 130,000 people globally, said Thursday it plans to reduce its workforce to between 75,000 and 90,000 by the end of the decade to operate a "leaner business," Bloomberg reported.

Jansen said the fiber rollout with the adoption of AI will simplify its structure to encourage reliance on a smaller workforce and reduce cost by the end of the 2020s.

"By continuing to build and connect like fury, digitize the way we work, and simplify our structure, by the end of the 2020s BT Group will rely on a much smaller workforce and a significantly reduced cost base," CEO Philip Jansen said in a statement, as per CNN. "New BT Group will be a leaner business with a brighter future."

Regarding AI replacing about 10,000 roles in the company, Jansen said the company finds a huge opportunity in AI to be more efficient.

"There is a sort of 10,000 reductions from that sort of automated digitization, we will be a huge beneficiary of AI. I believe generative AI is huge leap forward, yes we have to be careful, but it is a massive change," he added.

Jansen noted a "big chunk" of job cuts would be in the U.K., as the company will complete its fiber broadband and 5G rollout and phase out old 3G and copper technology.

"When we stop building the network we won't need that workforce," the CEO said. "We will rely on a much smaller workforce and new networks are much more efficient. There will be fewer contractors, natural attrition and reskilling. Only 5,000 [job cuts] in this plan are what you would call 'normal' restructuring. This is not new news to any of our union partners."

A BT spokesman told Bloomberg more than 15,000 job roles would be eliminated after the replacement of copper-based networks with fiber optics by the end of 2026. Furthermore, more than 10,000 jobs will be cut after IT and customer services will be made more automated.

The announcement came as the company met market expectations with a 5% rise in full-year adjusted core earnings of $9.8 billion. With the layoffs, Jansen plans to cut expenses by $3.7 billion annually by 2025 against 2020 levels.

Meanwhile, Prospect, the union representing thousands of BT managers, has expressed concerns over the massive size of layoffs, which will be "very unsettling" for workers.

"Prospect are deeply concerned by the scale of these cuts," John Ferrett, national secretary at Prospect, said. "Announcing such a huge reduction in this way will be very unsettling for workers who did so much to keep the country connected during the pandemic. As a union, we want to see the details behind this announcement in order to understand how it will impact upon members and have demanded an urgent meeting with the chief executive."

BT, which is deemed as U.K.'s largest broadband and mobile provider, also suffered reported losses worth $153 million this year in its joint venture with Warner Bros Discovery. According to the telecoms company, the joint venture "underperformed against business plan" due to various factors, such as "cost of living pressures affecting the premium sports subscription market."

Earlier this week, Vodafone, BT's rival in the U.K., announced plans to make 11,000 job cuts over the next three years, the largest in the mobile service firm's history. Vodafone CEO Margherita Della Valle cited declining performance and competition as the reason behind the decision.

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Experts predict that more layoffs will be coming. Reuters/Eric Thayer