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Branson's pickle as 120 workers lose their Virginity

Call centre plans undercut by NTL outsourcing bid

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Over 100 people were out of a job this week after Virgin Net dumped them for a cheaper outsourcing deal. The Internet company was due to open a support centre in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, next month, but has changed its plans. It had already promised jobs to 120 people in the area, many of whom were due to start work later this month. On Tuesday, Virgin announced it had secured a more competitive deal with NTL, its existing customer services company based in Newport, Wales. The 120 prospective employees were contacted, but many had already quit their existing jobs to become born-again Virgins. They were venting their spleens in today's Wiltshire Times, saying Virgin had abused people's trusts and left them in a financial pickle. "My firm can't take me back. I have three kids, and right before Christmas I have been lumbered with a huge loan," said one. Another added: "Obviously, I accepted the job. You have confidence in an organisation like Virgin. I feel very let down." Virgin will pay one month's salary to all the spurned workers. Alex Heath, Virgin Net MD, said: "We are very aware of how distressing news like this can be and apologise for the uncertainty this may have caused. "Our priority is to help individuals find alternative jobs as quickly as possible." The company has set up a free helpline and a series of meetings with NTL and 7C to find people jobs at their call centres. A Virgin Mobile customer centre, due to open in Trowbridge by the end of the year, was unaffected by the decision. ®

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