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BT's British call centre plan could hit working hours snag

Posted on Sep 01 2009
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However, the Communications Workers Union (CWU) is preparing to start discussions about the hours that call centre operators could be required to work.

The types of jobs being brought back home could require staff to work weekend shifts and up until 11pm at night.

BT had no problems filling such posts in India, despite the country being 4.5 hours ahead of the UK – meaning staff on late shifts would not finish until 3.30am local time.

However, the CWU stressed that discussions with BT were in their earliest stages.

A union spokesman said: "We are going to be talking to BT about making sure working hours are not forced upon people, but we haven't got to that stage yet."

A BT spokesman said: "BT has already brought back work from India with no issues surrounding working hours and we plan to bring more back over time.

"We are working closely with the union who have been supportive of our plans. BT has a responsibility to find work for its permanent workforce and this is just one measure it is taking to protect its direct workforce.”

The planned jobs move is set against a backdrop of 15,000 job losses last year and a further 15,000 planned for this year.

The company has always insisted that shifting the call centre staff back to Britain has nothing to do with customer feedback about calls handled in India.

It moved 5,500 call centre jobs to India in 2003.

BT is not the only large company bringing such jobs back to Britain: Powergen, Abbey and Orange have also done so.

A survey by the Nationwide Building Society found that nine out of 10 customers did not like dealing with foreign-based call centres.

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