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EDITIONS
Thursday, 12 September, 2002, 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK
Call centre votes for strike action
Call centre worker
Reality call centre workers have voted for strike action
Call centre workers in mid Wales have voted in favour of strike action over fears that jobs could be lost to overseas call centre workers.

Fears have been growing at the Reality centre in Newtown that a trial use of a call centre in India by parent company Great Universal Stores will lead to job cuts in its UK operations.

Reality call centre
Reality employs 400 workers in Newtown
More than 80% of union members at sites across the north west of England and the Newtown site voted for industrial action.

Union officials from Udsaw have held talks all week with senior Reality managers to seek a solution to the dispute.

National Officer Val Pugh said: "This is a resounding vote in favour of Usdaw's policy.

"Our reps at all the sites have worked tirelessly to protect their members' jobs and our principled postion has been vindicated by the vote."

The company has said it is looking at options to "supplement" the UK call centres it uses.

Overseas centre trial

The workers are fighting to get a job security agreement signed guaranteeing they will not lose jobs to overseas workers.

In August, the company carried out a trial using 50 operatives based in Bangalore, India.

According to the management, it had used overseas operatives at times of peak demand for a number of years.

In a statement, the company said it was now looking to overseas call centres to supplement the services already provided in the UK.

Ms Pugh added: "We want a security of employment agreement for our members whose jobs are threatened by the export of calls to India.

"This is another example of how important it is for companies to consult with the workforce.

"If we had been consulted, this dispute could have been avoided."

After the result of the ballot was announced, Reality said it had no plans to close any UK contact centres as a result of development in India and was continuing to recruit in the UK.

Negotiations between the union and Reality are continuing.

Catalogue calls

As well as the 400 staff in Newtown, the company uses bases across northwest England.

call centre worker
Thousands work in call centres across Wales
GUS runs home shopping catalogues Kays, Choice and Great Universal and also controls catalogue chain Argos.

The company had previously said it was now looking to overseas call centres to supplement the services already provided in the UK.

"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," a spokesperson said.

See also:

14 Aug 02 | Wales
14 Aug 02 | Wales
20 Oct 00 | South Asia
03 May 02 | Wales
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