31/10/2003

Lloyds TSB call centre closure slammed as 'profit without conscience'

Finance union Unifi has reacted angrily to an announcement that Lloyds TSB is to transfer 900 call centre jobs in Newcastle to India by the end of next year.

Branding the move as "profit without conscience" Unifi Deputy General Secretary Iain MacLean said: "The wholesale export of jobs to India and other cheap labour markets has hugely damaging implications for the economy of the North East and other regions with high concentrations of call centre jobs.

"It is simply not acceptable in this day and age for companies to export jobs in this way on the grounds of cost cutting regardless of the devastating impact on workers, families and communities."

He said that the announcement by Lloyds TSB "underlined the need for firm and speedy government action".

"With up to 250,000 UK call centre jobs at risk the need for a regulatory framework around 'offshoring' is compelling and Unifi is calling on the DTI to act on this front without delay."

The union, which has called for a parliamentary investigation into the issue, has welcomed the recent decision of the DTI Select Committee to begin hearings in the new session of parliament.

Mr MacLean said: "Here in Newcastle, it’s about making a protest against Lloyds TSB. But this is not a nine-day wonder. There is a job of work to be done in terms of representing the interests of those directly affected by today’s announcement and we will be devoting all our energies and resources to that task in the week’s ahead."

He added: "We put to Lloyds a sensible and carefully worked out set of principles that would enable the company and the union to work together to consider the proposal for transferring work, in a way that recognised the impact on staff and communities. Lloyds has sidelined the issue and bulldozed its plans through as a fait accompli without consideration for others."

Unifi will be consulting with its members about the way forward, and has not ruled out possible industrial action.

A campaign including customers and MPs will be considered to fight the closure and job losses, especially at a time when a number of finance companies have confirmed their commitment to the area.

The union also said that Barclays is poised to transfer an undisclosed number of jobs to India from its offices in Hastings.

(SP)

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