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Monday, April 18, 2011

Phone workers facing the axe told: 'You can move to the Philippines... and it includes a RICE allowance'

By Daily Mail Reporter

A long way from Darlington: A shanty town under a bridge in Manila, the Filipino capital, where Orange customer service staff say they were told they could move

Workers facing the axe at a mobile phone company have been offered alternative employment in the Philippines.

Staff at the Orange customer service centre in Darlington, County Durham, say they were even given details of a 'rice allowance' they could claim as part of the 'transfer' package to work for IBM in Manila.

Orange, which last year merged with T-Mobile to create Everything Everywhere, recently confirmed that 40 staff would be affected by plans to outsource some work abroad.

Job losses: Orange offices in Darlington where staff facing the axe complain of shoddy treatment

The Darlington jobs are being moved to the firm's service partner, IBM, based 7,000miles away in the Philippines.

Staff were told they could move to the new customer services hub in the Far-Eastern country. They were also offered alternative roles elsewhere in Britain.

So far, a small number of staff have accepted severance packages, while others have moved jobs.

Others affected have been placed on 'special leave', receiving basic pay while they consider their options.

One employee, who did not want to be named, said staff were angry with the way the situation had been handled by the company.

She said: ‘It is a complete joke. No one in their right mind would want to move to Manila.

‘When we asked for details of the transfer package we were handed a sheet of paper with what the IBM employees receive, which is less than £200 a month, with a rice allowance and a laundry allowance.

‘That's not a transfer package, it's a job description for someone who works for IBM in Manila.

‘People are really upset about the way the whole process has been handled.

‘It is appalling, we have had to fight for information about a number of things all along the way.

‘People have naturally been worried about their job and have been told things like "If you hate it so much, why are you here?" '

Darlington MP Jenny Chapman said: ‘I am lost for words. It is hard to take this Manila move seriously, or consider it as a credible proposition.

‘I really cannot imagine people working in the offices of Darlington Orange considering moving to the Philippines.

‘I would be fascinated to find out how many people take them up on this offer.’

Orange cut 120 jobs in Darlington last year and has faced a series of allegations from staff who say consultation has been inadequate and rushed and complain of shoddy treatment.

It is understood that some employees have sought legal advice while the conciliation service Acas was also approached to act as a go-between. The company said that its services have not been required.

The Darlington jobs are being moved to the firm's service partner, IBM, based 7,000 miles away in the Philippines

Staple: Rice, seen growing near the foot of the Mayon volcano, is such an important crop in the Philippines that many workers are offered an allowance

Some staff also claim severance packages are less than previously accepted by workers who have left Orange.

An Orange spokeswoman said: 'We are proposing some operational changes to our nightshift customer services for the Orange brand.

'We are creating a dedicated 24/7 Business Technical Support Team to handle the calls from business customers with eight new roles.

'The remaining overnight consumer calls will in future be handled by an existing outsource partner in Manila during their daytime hours.

'We are continuing discussions with a very small number of employees who have expressed an interest in the option of transferring to Manila, but they still have an option of a UK role or severance package if they prefer.'

She said anyone taking an alternative daytime role within the company would receive additional payments for three months to cover some of the difference in night-time shift earnings and full details of severance packages had been given.

Orange said individual consultations with staff who had not yet decided on their preferred option had been extended and the end of the consultation date had been communicated to employees so they had full notice.



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