Parent company blames ‘challenging’ economic environment for decision to transfer call centre jobs to South Africa


Prospect says it is ‘extremely disappointed’ that the broadband and mobile phones giant Telefónica is to transfer 200 full-time call centre jobs from the UK to South Africa.

The parent company says it wants to ‘control’ costs at its UK subsidiary, O2.

Telefónica’s revenue in the first half of this year amounted to more than £1.18bn, according to company figures, down 6.1% on the same period last year.

Its net profits halved for the first quarter of 2012, to £599m.

The company says redundancies and other ‘restructuring’ has reduced staff costs by 4.3%.

Last month, CWU members working for O2 voted by 89% to accept a pay increase for staff worth 2.87%

Unions say one of O2’s important selling points has been that all calls from UK customers are handled by UK staff.

Critics say management is showing ‘serious misjudgement’ by allowing the call centre contractor Capita to transfer the work overseas at a time of high unemployment in the UK.

In a statement, Prospect says: “Our members are telling us it reflects old ways of thinking, not new.

Prospect and our members have approached Telefónica to engage more closely with us to identify and co-operate with improving processes, systems and ways of working.

“We believe they have the potential to lead to greater efficiency and lead to a discussion about bringing more outsourced work back in-house.

“In this way we can all focus on delivering improved customer service rather than focusing on the costly management of different outsource partners and disconnected processes.

“Our members can then feel more secure about their jobs in Telefónica at a time of uncertainty across the economy.”

O2 and Telfónica say they have a customer base of more than 22m people across the UK, 51% of all mobile phone users in the country.

The company also operates in Ireland, Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic as well as its core domestic market in Spain.

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