Tyne & Wear

East Coast jobs protest at Newcastle call centre

A protest is taking place against plans to axe almost 200 call centre jobs on Tyneside at government-owned train operator East Coast.

Members and officials from rail unions RMT and TSSA are outside the firm's offices at Baron House in Newcastle.

Unions claim the majority of the work will be moved to call centres in India.

East Coast said only about a third of posts would be moved abroad and that the decision was taken to improve its service to customers.

East Coast said the work was put out to tender in June last year, with the successful bidders being Intelenet UK and Atos Origin.

The train company said public telesales had continued to decline and represented 1.7% of East Coast's passenger revenue today compared with 11% in 2006.

'Grossly misled'

It forecast the number of passengers continuing to use telesales as a sales channel would continue to decline.

A spokesman for TSSA said: "It is the trade unions' opinion that the call centre should stay open and form part of the East Coast franchise and should remain on Tyneside.

"Throughout the process the unions, MPs and the Department for Transport appear to have been grossly misled."

An East Coast spokesman said: "We awarded contracts to two new suppliers, Intelenet and Atos Origin, following a robust tendering process that will deliver long-term value for money for the public sector.

"The new contracts for customer contact centre services will improve our service to customers, including doubling opening hours for customer relations.

"Less than a third of the current posts from Baron House will transfer to India."

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