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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 17:27 GMT
BT threatened with strike action
Call centre worker
The union says 700 jobs are at risk
A union has threatened to take industrial action against BT over plans by the telecoms firm to move hundreds of directory enquiry jobs to India.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has said it believes 700 jobs are at risk, with the first wave of changes due to start in April.

BT said it was considering setting up call centres in India, but that no final decision had been made.

And it said no workers would be forced to leave the company.

We are preparing ourselves for a campaign which will include industrial action
Sally Bridge, Communication Workers Union

"We would stress that, whatever decision is reached, we would not destroy BT jobs in the UK, only to recreate them in India," a BT spokeswoman said.

"In line with our usual practice, anyone who wanted to stay with BT would be able to do so and be re-trained and re-skilled, if necessary."

Cost savings

Many UK companies have moved call centre operations to India to take advantage of lower wage costs.

It has been reported that BT could make cost savings of 40% if the directory work was switched.

But the CWU said it was preparing for strike action to defend jobs.

"BT is being very coy about its plans and seems to be waiting for any backlash," said CWU national officer Sally Bridge.

"We are writing to our members and calling meetings around the country and we will then decide on our course of action, but we are preparing ourselves for a campaign which will include industrial action."

BT currently employs about 2,500 workers in its directory services operation in call centres across the UK.

The CWU said it feared 700 jobs currently filled by agency workers were at risk.





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