News : BT Plans to Bring Jobs Back to the UK
Stoke-on-Trent, UK, Nov 16, 2015 -- Call centre workers are being asked to support major changes to their shift patterns as part of plans by BT to bring hundreds of jobs back to the UK.
Staff based at Telecom House in Hanley are being balloted by the Communications Workers Union (CWU) over the proposals which it says would bring about greater job security.
But the new agreement has split opinion on the office floor, with some workers claiming the arrangements would be hugely disruptive.
The CWU said the proposal has come about after intensive negotiations on the back of a commitment from BT to return 700 overseas jobs to the UK.
If members endorse the agreement, working options such as a nine-day fortnight and a three-day week would be introduced for all BT Consumer customer care staff nationally.
But a worker based in Hanley, where BT employs about 100 staff, said: "A lot of staff here are extremely unhappy about these proposed new shift patterns and will definitely vote against the union's recommendation.
"They see them as completely disrupting their work-life balance and it is undermining morale here."
BT said staff will have the chance to choose the hours they'd ideally like to work under the new system and it will do its best to match that with the needs of customers.
A spokesman said: "BT Consumer has said that its aim is to answer more than 80 per cent of our customers' calls in the UK by the end of 2016. As we offer extra services across TV, mobile and sport, more of our customers want to contact us in the evening or at weekends. At the moment, we have to answer the majority of these calls offshore."
CWU assistant secretary Nigel Cotgrove said: "This is a far reaching agreement which is essential to transform job security in BT Consumer Customer Care.
"It would ensure that work coming back to the UK goes into BT contact centres and would create at least another 700 BT jobs, and significantly reduce the reliance on agency staff.
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"We are acutely aware of the sensitivity of attendance patterns to all members and the impact that they have on their lives. For that reason, the agreement also provides protections for those who are unable to alter their attendances as well as transitional arrangements for those making the biggest changes.
"We have long campaigned to bring work back from overseas to BT UK contact centres and reduce the high level of temporary jobs.
"To ensure that we achieve this and enhance job security, we need to establish a new attendance framework. That is why we are urging members to support the agreement."
The proposed agreement would affect about 3,500 staff and the ballot is due to start later this month.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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