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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 November, 2003, 09:21 GMT
Indian call centre move 'idiotic'
Call centre
Many companies have moved call centre operations overseas
A union representing UK call centre workers has criticised the chief executive of National Rail Enquiries for saying that Indian staff were better than their British counterparts.

Rail enquiries chief executive Chris Scoggins said the service could be improved if outsourced to India.

He said the move could also save rail firms up to 25m over several years.

But Amicus union said: "This attitude is an example of the idiocy of moving the inquiry service 10,000 miles away."

'Communities devastated'

Amicus has asked to see evidence from the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) to back up the claims.

Union officials believe if National Rail Enquiries is moved overseas it could threaten more than 1,000 jobs at call centres in Newcastle, Cardiff, Derby and Plymouth.

An Amicus spokesman said: "The impact could be devastating - hurting most the same communities that suffered worst from the collapse of manufacturing."

Earlier this year Atoc, which awards the service contract, announced it would consider foreign bids.

Mr Scoggins made his controversial comments to MPs sitting on the House of Commons' transport committee, when he said Indian staff were more accurate and better motivated.

He confirmed a pilot programme for rail enquiries was already under way in Bangalore, involving 10 call centre employees.

No final decisions have yet been made about the new contracts in the tendering process, he said.

Labour costs

Unions have been battling against a tide of call-centre jobs being switched overseas, complaining about the loss of work in the UK.

Companies have been warned that their image suffers when they open call centres in other countries.

But many firms have been outsourcing jobs because of huge savings on labour costs.

Amicus is predicting that 200,000 call centre and back office processing jobs will leave the UK by the end of the decade.

A union spokesman said: "It is no wonder that the workers in this country are furious."




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Annita McVeigh
"The train operating companies believe the move could save them 25million over the next few years"



SEE ALSO:
Boss backs India call-centre move
12 Nov 03  |  Business
Union's anger at BT's India plan
09 Sep 03  |  West Midlands
Protests over call centre move
20 Aug 03  |  Cumbria
Concern over rail enquiries move
10 Jul 03  |  Derbyshire


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