Orange moves more of its business to India as union condemns it for not investing in home-grown talent

Orange's plans to close one of its contact centres and handle more customer queries offshore in India as part of a cost-cutting regime have been met with anger by trade union officials.

Last week, the mobile operator announced it would close its Peterlee contact centre, which employs 900 people, and aim to redeploy 100 business customer service staff currently based in its Solihull office. It claims it will offer redundancy to 100 of these staff and aim to relocate the remainder within its Darlington and North Tyneside contact centres.

In May this year, the operator announced it would shed 1,800 jobs across all departments in a bid to shave 15 per cent from operational costs. Those who cannot be redeployed will form part of this cull.

At the same time, the company announced it planned to employ an additional 300 customer service staff in India, leading to many making a connection between the closures and Orange's increased use of offshoring.

Orange defended its actions, suggesting that the changes will benefit customers in the form of new services.

"While we're excited that we can now offer so much more than pure mobile and excited by the opportunities this offers our business, we are also aware how change can unsettle our employees. That's why we will ensure there are enough opportunities in other sites across the North East to safeguard the jobs of our Peterlee and Solihull customer service employees should they choose to move," said Steve Aumayer, vice president of business support, Orange.

But UK telecommunications trade body, the Communications Worker Union (CWU) slammed the announcement, condemning the decision and the proposed redundancy payouts.