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Last Updated: Friday, 24 June, 2005, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
Call centre staff lured to India
Map of India
Call centre workers are being recruited to India
A UK firm is recruiting 150 graduates to work in Indian call centres for a few hundred pounds a month.

Workers earn about 11,000 to 30,000 rupees a month - about 150 to 400. The wage is less than a quarter of the average earnings in the UK.

London-based Launch Offshore says there has been strong interest in the jobs.

The move comes after thousands of UK jobs were lost to foreign call centres. A spokesman for the firm said living in India was much cheaper.

Tim Bond, managing director of Launch Offshore, said workers' flights and accommodation were free and if they broke their contract the only penalty they faced was their fare home - about 200.

He said: "We do not consider this to be exploitation or a gap year, many people enjoy themselves so much or even get married in India that they renew their contracts for three to four years.

The people we have out there at the moment are happy
Tim Bond, Launch Offshore

"Workers, who sign contracts from six months to a year, get a competitive salary similar to their Indian colleagues.

"But the cost of living is much lower - seven to eight times lower - a packet of cigarettes costs 50p and a three course meal is 2.50.

"This is a novel opportunity with travel opportunities and we give people training in the culture so they know what to expect."

Recruits live in flats and apartments which they share with other workers from the UK.

Mr Bond added: "The places available usually have all mod cons and air conditioning and are quite comfortable.

"The people we have out there at the moment are happy, but if they weren't contracts can be broken although of course we do not want to encourage this as it undermines our credibility."

Great challenge

A recent recruitment drive in Newcastle attracted 60 people and Mr Bond is hoping to sign up around 10 Geordies to go to places like Delhi and Bombay.

India is currently suffering a brain drain with skilled workers emigrating for better paid jobs abroad.

Daniel Mowbray, 25, of Whitley Bay, is hoping to sign up with Launch Offshore for a year.

He said: "I think it will be a great experience, I have friends who have worked in India and I have always been interested in the culture.

"I've always wanted to work abroad and I've read up about India - I'm hoping it will be a great challenge."


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