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Last Updated: Monday, 2 February, 2004, 17:18 GMT
Minister defends UK call centres
Call centre worker
Firms can cut costs by relocating
The Trade and Industry Secretary has defended the UK's call centres at a private meeting with union leaders and key figures in the industry.

Patricia Hewitt predicted the sector would grow in the UK despite fears thousands of jobs would be lost as firms move their operations to India.

She said there was enough room in the sector for everyone.

But unions argue that "offshoring" is a big problem and may call for an independent commission.

But Ms Hewitt is confident the number of jobs in UK call centres will grow from its current level of 400,000.

'No case'

She also warned it would be wrong to jeopardise trade with India, where the UK currently exports goods worth 2.5bn.

The meeting was intended to help shape the future of the call centre industry in the UK to try and make it more competitive.

The Abbey bank, insurance giant Norwich Union and the rail inquiry service have relocated call centres to India.

Last month TUC president Roger Lyons said the case for moving call centres abroad had not been made.

He said several UK firms had looked into "offshoring" before opting to stay.




SEE ALSO:
Call centre job fears 'overblown'
23 Jan 04  |  England
Head-to-head: Call centre jobs
20 Jan 04  |  Business


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