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Orange hires 500 staff in India

The French-owned mobile company Orange has hired an extra 500 staff in India and has refused to give a commitment to its Britain-based employees that it would not recruit more people in India.

india Updated: Feb 16, 2006 18:43 IST

The French-owned mobile company Orange has hired an extra 500 staff in India and has refused to give a commitment to its Britain-based employees that it would not recruit more people in India.

The company employs thousands of employees in Britain including 5,500 at call centres in North Tyneside, Peterlee and Darlington. In 2005, the company embarked on a trial of more than 200 staff in two Indian call centres.

Following the success of that initial trial with the Convergys and Vertex call centres, Orange has now revealed that it has increased numbers to 750, and refused to say whether that number will rise.

Trade union Amicus called on the company to make a full statement about its offshore working so its employees in Britain were clear about the company's intentions but Orange declined to elaborate on a statement detailing the new recruitment in India.

An Orange statement said: "As previously announced, Orange has been working with two companies to assess the feasibility of outsourcing some of its call handling to call centres based in India.

"This trial came to an end last year and was a success, reaching the projected figure of 750 call handlers by the end of 2005 and handling specific types of calls for Orange pre-pay and contract customers.

"Orange can't confirm any future plans regarding the possible expansion of this programme.

"Orange remains committed to handling the majority of calls through its UK communications centres and will continue to have a significant presence in the North-East and South-West.

"There are no plans to reduce Orange's UK staffing levels as a result of these developments."

Mike Hughes, customer service director for Orange, said: "Our main objective is to provide the best service for our customers. Whether it's from a call centre in the UK or in India, our main concern is that customers get the levels of service they need and expect from Orange."

Orange added that recruitment in call centres in Britain was ongoing "where and when it is required".

Amicus regional secretary Davey Hall said: "I believe there is an onus and a responsibility on Orange to divulge to their workforce their exact plans for India - and any impact there will be on jobs in the UK."

First Published: Feb 16, 2006 12:12 IST