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BT Returns Call Center Work from India

Some 4,000 positions in India are set to be eliminated as the British telco shifts customer service work back to employees in Britain

BT (BT) is cutting its call centre workforce in India by 4,000 and bringing some of the work back to the UK, the telco confirmed today.

The cuts all fall within BT Retail and only involve third-party call centre staff rather than direct BT employees, according to a BT spokesman.

The workforce reduction will be complete by next year, he added, attributing the cuts to "improved customer service which means that fewer support staff are required".

As a result of the job cuts, some work performed by Indian staff will in future be carried out by employees in the UK.

"Some work will… be moved back to the UK and given to full-time BT employees who have been affected by cuts elsewhere in these challenging times," the spokesman said. "BT has a responsibility to find work for its permanent workforce and this is just one measure it is taking to protect its direct workforce."

The move was disclosed at the telco's annual general meeting yesterday, according to a report in The Times. The newspaper claims at least 2,000 jobs will be repatriated, with the total expected to be closer to 2,750. However, the BT spokesman refused to confirm exactly how many jobs will be returned to the UK.

BT will still have call centre operations in India and will continue to source software and applications development work there, according to the telco's spokesman.

"This announcement shouldn't be seen as a reflection of BT giving up hopes on sourcing [work from India]," he added.

The company recently topped a poll of UK companies with the worst customer service, with complaints including call waiting times and trouble getting offshore call centre staff to understand English accents.

At the company's annual shareholder meeting yesterday, BT chairman Sir Michael Rake said the company is focusing on improving customer service, along with investing in fibre infrastructure to enable superfast broadband. According to Rake, BT also expects to cut over £1bn of costs in the current financial year.

In separate news, BT announced it has been awarded a Ministry of Defence contract worth £99m over five years for managed voice and data networks in more than a quarter of a million MoD assets, including buildings, comms rooms and underground cable ducts.

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