Adastral Park restructuring is not part of major job cuts plan, claims BT

  • BT is reorganising its R&D workforce
  • It plans to relocate about 1,100 staff that currently work at its Adastral Park research centre to other BT sites
  • The telco claims this is not a headcount reduction and is not part of the massive job cuts plan announced in May
  • But it’s inevitable that roles will be lost and the Prospect union is extremely concerned about the ramifications

UK national telco BT has informed staff at its world-renowned Adastral Park research centre in Martlesham on the east coast of England that about 1,100 roles, more than one-third of the total at that facility, are to be relocated to other sites during the next two years, but the operator says the move is not part of the massive headcount reduction it announced in May. 

The telco told Adastral Park staff on Thursday that 1,100 of the facility’s 2,900 staff – some 38% – would be offered roles at other BT sites and that the details of the revamp would be worked out during a consultation period that will last two years. 

A BT spokesperson told TelecomTV that this is “not a headcount reduction” and that it is not linked to the announcement made in May of a massive staff cull over the next seven years – see BT to cut up to 55,000 jobs in AI-enabled efficiency drive.

He also noted that BT does not have plans to shut down Adastral Park. Here’s the official BT statement about the move:

“​​We’re consolidating into a smaller number of buildings around the UK that provide cutting-edge technology and great working environments for our people. As part of these activities, we’re proposing to reduce the size of our presence at Adastral Park and move some roles to other BT Group locations over the next two years. We’re committed to Adastral Park for the long term, and we’ll continue to invest in our facilities there, as a number of our core operations, research and security functions will remain on-site. We’ll work closely with any colleagues impacted by these changes and will offer support, including relocation and redeployment options wherever possible.”

But while BT is saying this is not a headcount reduction, it would be naive to think that all of the 1,100 staff affected by the consolidation will relocate to other parts of the UK and continue to work at BT: While the operator doesn’t want to call it a headcount reduction – it instead refers to “rebalancing our talent footprint across our UK locations” – in reality, job losses will be the end result and it’s hard to imagine anyone believes that won’t be the case. 

And this is likely to be why the announcement is causing blood to boil at the Prospect union that represents BT employees. 

“Prospect is concerned by outline plans from BT Group to cut 1,100 jobs from its site at Adastral Park over the next two years. BT has failed to set out reasonable justification for these plans, which it claims are to save money and drive collaboration at other sites,” noted the union in this announcement. The move will 

mainly “impact highly skilled managerial and professional employees, as well as agency contractors. Despite BT’s suggestion that there will be opportunities for impacted workers elsewhere in the business, Prospect believes that these job cuts will amount to redundancies and will actually negatively impact collaboration,” added the union. 

So now staff at Adastral Park have an uncertain couple of years ahead of them and face the prospect of being asked to up sticks and move to another part of the country or lose their job. 

And if, as BT claims, this “rebalancing” is not part of the 55,000 workforce reduction announced in May, this means the number of BT staff set to be cut over the coming years is actually even higher. 

News of the move comes only weeks after Gabriela Styf Sjöman took over as BT’s managing director of research and network strategy – and it looks like she’ll soon have fewer staff to contribute to the telco’s R&D efforts.

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV