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5/30/2013
02:45 PM
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O2 Call Center Layoff Details Leaked

British telco O2 plans deep worker cuts driven by a "contact deflection" plan to force customers to use online help, says newspaper.

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More details have emerged about British mobile company O2's plans to cut call center staff, and it's not pretty.

The company's announcement last week of a 10-year, £1.2 billion ($1.8 billion) outsourcing contract with Capita that threatened job losses sparked widespread anger, especially in high-unemployment regions of the country where possibly affected call centers are located.

Now British newspaper The Daily Telegraph says it has seen "documents" that provide hard layoff numbers.

The newspaper says O2 has reduced the number of employees it promised to offer Capita positions from 3,700 to only 1,700, 2,000 less than originally forecast. Now it says that a minimum of 500 will be offered other roles inside the new employer.

[ Do you need to rethink employee monitoring? Read Monitoring Vs. Spying: Are Employers Going Too Far? ]

Three O2 call centers – in Bury and Greater Manchester in England, and Glasgow in Scotland – will be shut down completely, with cuts to staff in two other O2 facilities. Plus, in a move certain to ignite an offshoring row, a small Cape Town call center that takes calls from British customers will be expanded. Finally, a Capita call center in India offering support via Web chat "will also be expanded as part of plans to discourage customer calls, known as 'contact deflection'," according to the Telegraph.

The article goes on to say that contact deflection will be a big contributor to the overall plan, called "Project Vincent," to save O2 almost a billion pounds over the life of the Capita contract.

A union spokeswoman told the paper, "If this is true, we're shocked by the duplicity of O2 and Capita… This information will be a bombshell to O2 employees. Instead of building careers at a positive brand, they will be thrown away while their work leaves U.K. shores. What a shocking, secretive business plan."

On its own site Thursday, the union said it is writing to O2 and Capita to seek "clarity."

When it first announced the layoffs, O2 said it was driven to close call centers because of customers' increased use of smartphones and preference for online help.

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