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Union concerned at Orange job plans

Union leaders have voiced concern over moves by mobile phone giant Orange to switch work to the Philippines, saying that staff faced redundancy, lower pay or "unrealistic" relocation half-way around the world.

The company said 40 workers based in Darlington, County Durham, had been offered alternative jobs in the UK and almost all of them have now chosen one of these roles, or taken a severance package.

"We are continuing discussions with a very small number of employees who have expressed an interest in the option of transferring to Manila, but they still have an option of a UK role or severance package if they prefer," said an Orange spokesman.

The Communication Workers Union said it was worried about the impact of the move on jobs in the North East.

Union official Kevin Leetion said: "Night shift staff at Orange's contact centre in Darlington are being told they face redundancy, lower pay or an unrealistic relocation half-way around the world.

"They are understandably concerned about their futures, and we are very worried about the long-term employment implications of this shift for jobs in the North East.

"Staff are also disappointed by the lack of consultation from the company on this change so we're asking Orange to put employment issues at the top of their list. Upsetting staff is not good for morale or customer service so treating people well makes good business sense."

Workers had an option of moving from nights to a day shift, but they would lose allowances worth up to £8,000, said the union.

The Orange spokesman said: "We are proposing some operational changes to our night shift customer services for the Orange brand. We are creating a dedicated 24/7 Business Technical Support Team to handle the calls from business customers with eight new roles.

"The remaining overnight consumer calls will in future be handled by an existing outsource partner in Manila during their daytime hours."

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