Twenty CWU members and supporters rallied on Beeston Ring Road on Wednesday morning outside the O2 call centre following the announcement that 3,700 O2 staff are to be transferred to service industry giant Capita as part of a outsourcing deal affecting staff in a number of centres.
Yesterday’s picket was enthusiastically greeted by people on their way into and passing the Arlington Centre, who tooted their car horns in support.
Last month the Communications Workers Union (CWU) passed an emergency motion opposing “any move by O2 to outsource the majority of call centre work as it is not in the interests of the members we represent” and promising action “up to, and including, industrial action.”
The Daily Telegraph reported last week on a secret £1.2bn contract signed with Telefonica, O2’s owners, which will close customer service facilities in Bury, Greater Manchester, and Glasgow. There will be deep cuts at O2’s call centre in the Dearne Valley, which currently employs the equivalent of more than 2,000 full time staff but in 2015 is scheduled to provide only 730 roles.
And Capita plans to axe 145 of 725 jobs from the Leeds call centre in 2015, when a two-year jobs guarantee from O2 is due to expire. Up to 1000 Leeds jobs are thought to be at risk over the life of the contract. It could be a devastating blow to South Leeds workers, their families and to local businesses.
The Leeds workers, some of whom have worked at the O2 site for over 8 years, are shocked at the company’s lack of appreciation for their skills and loyalty. They described a stressful, target-driven culture where the use of highly exploitative agency labour is rife and
“grown men and women come to work shaking, trembling and crying.”
They see the Capita plan as boosting profits at the expense of jobs, wages and working conditions. The 1,200 workers at the site are to be balloted on strike action with the result due on June 18th.
The secret “Project Vincent” reveals that Capita plans to retain only around 1,370 of the 3,700 O2 staff due to be transferred at the start of the deal in July. Just 500 of those who lose their jobs will be “redeployed” within Capita, according to documents seen by the Telegraph.
Overall, it is planned that the staff of more than 5,800 worldwide currently serving O2 customers will be cut to fewer than 3,000 at the end of Capita’s contract in 10 years.
Project Vincent is expected to save O2 almost a billion pounds over the 10 years of the contract. Capita shares hit an all-time high last week following news of the O2 contract.
This article was written by Sue Talbot using our Community Reporters website