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Wednesday, 14 August, 2002, 06:12 GMT 07:12 UK
Call centre workers strike threat
ITV Digital call centre, Pembroke Dock
Call centres are being created across Wales
Hundreds of call centre workers in mid Wales are set to be balloted next week over possible strike action, as fears grow that their jobs could be lost to centres in south east Asia.

Approximately 400 workers from Reality, based at Newtown, are concerned by talk of parent company Great Universal Stores about moving jobs to India.

Andrew Davies AM
Andrew Davies will play a personal role

A trial to divert UK customer calls to centres in India is due to end later this month, but shopworkers' union Usdaw is concerned it has received no assurances that jobs will not be lost.

A Reality spokesperson declined to comment on the possibility of strike action ahead of next week's ballot.

Reality said it had used 50 workers at a call centre in Bangalore as part of a wider plan to find ways to increase the level of its services and support its existing 4,000 UK call centre workers.


This is a part of a growth strategy

Reality spokesperson

But Usdaw is concerned that the pilot scheme will result in bigger plans to cut costs and officials are seeking assurances that jobs will not be lost.

After failing to secure a response from management, the union is now planning a postal ballot next week of members working for Reality.

GUS runs home shopping catalogues Kays, Choice and Great Universal and also controls catalogue chain Argos.

More than 100 companies operate call centres in Wales, employing more than 24,000 workers, with almost half the centres based in Cardiff.

Headset

But ITV Digital recently shed 900 call centre workers at Pembroke Dock, after the firm hit major financial problems.

A spokesperson for Reality said outside call centres had been used over the years to cope with additional demand from customers.

A company statement added: "The company is now looking to supplement the UK supplier with is UK outsource capacity to meet the needs of the business.

"A number of other UK based companies already operate successful overseas call centres because of its cost-effectiveness.

"This is a part of a growth strategy."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales' Matthew Richards
"Workers will be given information about a strike ballot"
See also:

03 May 02 | Wales
01 May 02 | Wales
19 May 00 | Wales
19 May 00 | Wales
16 Feb 00 | Wales
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