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Eircom in trade union talks

TELECOMMUNICATIONS firm Eircom has entered discussions with trade unions but has refused to put a final figure on the number of potential job cuts.

It's feared that up to 2,000 jobs face the axe at the company under a new three-year business plan.

Eircom has insisted that the group continues to employ more staff per telephone line than similar firms in Europe and needs to reduce this figure in order to remain competitive.

The company currently has 6,500 employees, but chief executive Paul Donovan said that the firm does not have a figure in mind for redundancies.

"It's difficult to come out with a number," he said. "That needs to be subject to detailed evaluation and agreement with our unions."

This affected its competitive position, he added.

The national executive of the Communications Workers Union, which represents more than 5,000 workers at the business, are due to meet this morning to discuss the new business plan.

Eircom is integrating its mobile arm, Meteor, with the fixed-line business, which will lead to a reduction in back-office functions and savings in IT.

The company is also mulling a €1bn-plus upgrade of its network from copper to fibre, which would require fewer workers for maintenance purposes.