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BT's 'reputation damaged' by India outsourcing deal

CWU says it's 'angry and disappointed'

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BT's decision to export some 900 jobs to India has damaged the British company's reputation, according to the Communications Workers Union (CWU).

Last week BT awarded a major broadband tech support contract to Indian outsourcing outfit HCL after ClientLogic, which had manned BT's broadband technical helpdesk for all consumer and business customers for the last five years, failed to win a competitive tender for the contract.

As a result some 900 jobs in the UK are at risk by the telco's decision to migrate the work overseas.

The CWU condemned the move as "a distressing and depressing piece of news for the 900 staff employed with Clientlogic...on the Broadband Technical Helpdesk".

In a letter to BT Retail chief exec Ian Livingston, CWU deputy general Jeannie Drake secretary wrote: "I wish to express the anger and disappointment of the CWU at the circumstances surrounding the BT decision to change its outsourcer agreement from Clientlogic to HCL.

"That the work is to be transferred to HCL sites in India provides the opportunity to deny the staff any protection under the TUPE regulations, has given the CWU little or no time to deal with the consequences of BT's decision, leaves hundreds facing the prospect of redundancy and with the company, in my view, having suffered reputational damage."

Drake also warned that there is growing discontent among union members who have expressed "serious concerns" concerning "management style, unilateral action on annual leave, levels of permanent resourcing and the company's general commitment to its employees in the Retail operations in the UK".

"Many CWU members want to take some form of industrial action in order to express a deep unhappiness about events within [BT] Retail," she said, adding that relations between BT and the CWU were "reaching a very serious situation" that could damage industrial relations.

A spokesman for BT told us: "We are engaged in constructive discussions with the CWU and we are confident that we will reach agreement on the issues they have raised.

"BT now has 34 contact centres - 32 of which are in the UK. We have invested £105m making these UK centres cutting edge facilities against our investment of just £3m at our two Indian contact centres. This speaks volumes for BT's continued investment in the UK," he said. ®

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