Australia's Optus plans Indian callcentre

Aussies prefer companies 'that don't do that kind of thing', says union

Australian telecommunications carrier SingTel Optus has announced plans to set up a callcentre in India and reassured permanent staff they do not face redundancy.

The reassurance follows claims by the union that outsourcing plans could spell disaster for the company's contract workers.

Optus plans to establish a 150-seat callcentre on the subcontinent to supplement its domestic callcentre operations.

The company says the outsourcing won't mean redundancy for any Optus permanent staff, but has left the fate of hundreds of Optus callcentre contractors up in the air.

The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU), which represents the 3,500 Optus callcentre staff across Australia, says the announcement spelled uncertainty for both permanent and contract workers.

The CEPU's telecommunications and Services national president, Colin Cooper, called on the telco to review its decision, claiming it could lead to a customer backlash.

"We don't think it's in the interests of maintaining the skills and experience in the company in Australia," the union says.

"It's a bad marketing strategy. Australian customers are more likely to use companies that don't do that kind of thing.

"We think companies have got to have some long-term commitment to their long-term staff and the countries where they intend to get their revenues from."

Optus was unwilling to provide details of how many contract staff were currently employed at its callcentres.

Optus corporate and regulatory affairs director Paul Fletcher dismisses suggestions Optus could lose customers by moving some operations offshore. "We want to do this in a way that we can take out customers along with us," he says.

Optus will outsource mobile, consumer and multimedia product transactions and selected consumer customer inquiries.

The Indian callcentre is expected to be operational by mid to late 2005.

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