Telecoms giant NTL is to axe 6,000 jobs by the end of next year following its recent merger with rival Telewest - which employs around 1,500 staff in Birmingham and the Black Country.
More than a third of NTL's 17,000 staff will be affected by the upheaval, which will see 3,000 roles axed and 3,000 outsourced to firms like IBM.
NTL yesterday said it hoped a large number of the cuts would be achieved through natural wastage, voluntary severance and a reduction in part-time staff, although it is understood there could be up to 1,000 compulsory redundancies.
Around 80 per cent of the changes will take place by the end of this year. However, it is not yet known exactly where jobs will go.
NTL chief executive Steve Burchsaid: "We are making a concerted effort to keep the number of compulsory redundancies to an absolute minimum."
None of the cuts will involve "customer contact positions", Mr Burch said. They will hit "back-office staff", he added, but declined to give more details.
The move comes as NTL looks to make cost savings of #250 million by the end of 2007 following its takeover of Telewest for #3.2 billion in March.
The group employs nearly 300 people at its offices in the Mailbox in Birmingham, around 400 elsewhere in the city and some 800 at a call centre at the Waterfront, Brierley Hill, where staff said they feared the worst.
NTL was slammed by the Amicus union, whose national officer Peter Skyte described the developments as "a devastating blow for thousands of employees across the whole country".
He added: "There is no corporate social responsibility in this announcement and it is difficult to fathom how cutting so many UK jobs will be good for NTL's customers."
Mr Burch said that, although the exact details of the shake-up were still being finalised, he did not expect any jobs to be sent abroad to countries such as India.
"Of the 3,000 jobs we are outsourcing, we do not anticipate any going from the UK," he added.
From July, the employment contracts of 690 workers in Liverpool and 791 in Swansea will transfer to IBM. No compulsory job cuts are expected among these workers.
Around 54 workers in Tees-side will also have their contracts transferred to IBM and their roles will be based in Swansea or Liverpool.
Chief operating officer Neil Berkett said: "Since we announced the merger with Telewest, we have consistently said that headcount reductions are likely.
"We cannot avoid taking difficult decisions if it means a better experience for our customers in the long term.
"We recognise that the announcement will mean uncertainty for some employ-ees and the communities they live in."
The tie-up with Telewest created the largest provider of residential broadband services in the UK and was followed by the acquisition of Virgin Mobile, making it the first operator with a "fourplay" offer of pay TV, internet access, fixed-line telephone and mobile calls.
NTL has radically reshaped itself since emerging from bankruptcy protection in 2003 -1,500 call centre staff lost their jobs in cuts announced two years ago.
The news is another blow to British industry after mobile phone giant Orange announced plans last week to axe up to 2,000 jobs under a review of its operational costs.
Rival telecoms firm Cable & Wireless warned in February that it may reduce its 5,500-strong UK workforce to between 2,500 and 3,500 over the next four to five years.
NTL said revenues for the three months to March 31 rose 22.8 per cent to #611.4 million, mainly due to the Telewest merger. Operating profit was #3.9 million, compared with #13 million a year earlier.
On a net basis, the company posted a loss of #119.9 million, compared with a profit of #455.8 million in the year-ago period, when NTL recorded a one-off gain from an asset sale.
NTL added 25,800 net customers during the quarter.