Optus announces offshoring plans

Optus has announced plans to set up a call centre 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 call centre on the subcontinent to supplement its domestic call centre operations.

The company said the outsourcing would not mean redundancy for any Optus permanent staff, but has left the fate of hundreds of Optus call centre contractors up in the air.

The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU), which represents the 3,500 Optus call centre staff across Australia, said 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 the decision 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 said.

"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 call centres.

Optus Corporate and Regulatory Affairs director Paul Fletcher dismissed suggestions Optus could loose customers by moving some operations offshore. "We want to do this in a way that we can take out customers along with us," he said.

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

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

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