The Pru becomes latest firm to send call centre jobs to India

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Bombay is set to win again as UK insurance firm the Prudential axes 850 call centre jobs and transfers the work to India.

The insurance group is setting up an offshore service centre in Mumbai which is scheduled to begin operating in late 2004. A £20m restructuring charge to complete the UK lay-offs will be offset by anticipated £16m annual savings by 2006.

Union officials at Amicus called the move “scandalous”, claiming that the 3,500 workers at the Reading site were assured less than a year ago that the UK call centre remained key to the company's future plans. But they added that they had now been told the work will be transferred to India by 2004 with the "job export exercise” kicking off next year.

"This is a despicable act by the Prudential,” said Amicus official Roger Lyons "Selling 850 UK call centre jobs and other support jobs to India is disgraceful. The only reason being given is an 80 per cent saving on wages. The Prudential has double-crossed its staff and customers by making this mercenary decision."

The Pru is the latest UK firm to opt for a cheaper Indian solution. Management consultancy Accenture has warned that up to 70,000 UK call centre jobs could end up being transferred from the UK to the sub-continent.

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