O2's Outsourcing Plans Spark Anger - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
IT Leadership // IT Strategy
News
5/28/2013
12:06 PM
50%
50%

O2's Outsourcing Plans Spark Anger

Spanish telco's U.K. brand, O2, says it doesn't need as many call center staffers to help customers since the rise of the smartphone. But its plans for dealing with that change have been fiercely attacked.

LinkedIn: 10 Important Changesr
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
LinkedIn: 10 Important Changes
U.K. mobile and broadband customers are being asked to protest against plans by the British arm of European provider Telefonica, O2, to outsource call center jobs.

A new online petition claims that a "large proportion" of affected employees are young people living in already high British unemployment areas such as Leeds, Bury, Glasgow and Preston Brook.

"They all face uncertainty for their futures and feel utterly betrayed by the stark reality of what the company is doing," states the petition, which calls on Telefonica U.K. CEO Ronan Dunne to reverse the plan, which has sparked anger. Wrote one petitioner, "I for one will move both my mobile numbers away from O2 in the next few weeks," and another said, "O2 makes billions in profit and opts for the lowest common denominator for staff. [This action] is unethical and unacceptable."

[ Is the U.S. talent pool really as dangerously shallow as some want you to believe? IT Talent Shortage Or Purple Squirrel Hunt? ]

Last week, O2 announced plans to extend an outsource arrangement with supplier Capita in a 10-year, £1.2 billion ($1.8 billion) plan to take over the running of its customer service centers.

The move comes after what the mobile service operator says has been a drop by a million in monthly customer calls from customers compared to two years ago, as British smartphone users prefer contact through apps or social media instead. O2 says it is investing £50 million ($75 million) in new digital customer services in response.

But the outsourcing deal has been roundly condemned by staff and unions, with one local press report in a town affected by the move claiming, "02 staff feel totally and utterly betrayed. 02 is just cost-cutting when their profits are up. They are selling out on the very people that made them the success they are today." A union that represents workers in the call center sector, the CWU, says it might push for national strike action.

Between 600 and 1,000 staffers -- figures vary between the parties -- might lose their jobs, while over 3,000 will transfer to what the union says are poorer-paid jobs with inferior job conditions. The average salary of current O2 call center staff is about £10 ($15) an hour, while staff doing the same job in at least one Capita facility are paid about £7 ($11).

The petition had been signed by just a few hundred people at the time of this writing. But a strike and additional negative headlines could turn what might have seemed to Telefonika as a rational business decision into something much more political and complicated.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Slideshows
What Digital Transformation Is (And Isn't)
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/4/2019
Commentary
Watch Out for New Barriers to Faster Software Development
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  12/3/2019
Commentary
If DevOps Is So Awesome, Why Is Your Initiative Failing?
Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary,  12/2/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll