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O2 UK move to cut 1,000 jobs sparks union anger

O2 will make a further 400 job cuts

The UK arm of Spanish operator group Telefónica will make around 1,000 call centre staff redundant as part of an outsourcing deal with Capita. The move has sparked fury from the UK’s Communications Workers Union (CWU), which said that this  is “not how a decent, responsible employer should behave”.

The CWU is currently holding a strike ballot for members working at O2’s call centres in England, over plans to outsource around 3,500 jobs to managed services firm Capita.

When O2 announced its outsourcing agreement with Capita earlier this month, the operator said that it would offer voluntary redundancies to 500 to 600 staff, who would leave in July.  but O2 has now said that it will accept a further 400 voluntary redundancies for staff who will leave the firm by December 1, 2013. The remaining 2,500 staff will be transferred to Capita on July 1, 2013. Up to 3,800 people could be affected by the outsourcing and redundancy plans.

The cuts affect staff working in UK call centres in Bury, Glasgow, Leeds and Preston Brook (near Warrington). Each of these sites will be transferred to Capita, but rumours are circulating that at least two of these sites will be closed down within two years.

“We’re dismayed and disappointed at this latest announcement of job cuts from O2 at such short notice. The outsourcing transfer date is less than three weeks away and the goalposts appear to be moving daily. This is not how a decent, responsible employer should behave,” said Andy Kerr, CWU deputy general secretary.

“Our members in O2 have been brutally destabilised by the actions of O2,” he added. “They’ve been given a very short period to consider serious decisions about their future. Many don’t know whether to stay or go; whether to take some money and leave now or take a chance on Capita.”

Kerr added that the cuts will mean the permanent loss of employment in these towns and cities.

“We remain gravely concerned for the future job and site security of people affected by outsourcing to Capita and we have further talks aimed at securing the best assurances we can for people’s jobs, terms and conditions. We’re urging all members to vote yes in the current ballot.”

The result of the strike ballot is due on June 18, 2013.

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