Top UK companies face Indian call-centre flak

British companies such as British Airways, Barclays and Norwich Union, which have call centres in India, are expected to be accused of a lack of corporate social responsibility (CSR), following reports of a surge in the number of suicides and stress-related problems among workers in the Indian call centre industry.

It has been reported in the Indian press that difficult working conditions in call centres, including long shifts and night duties, are leading to an increased incidence of work-related stress and even suicides.

The news comes as many UK organisations, such as Tesco and National Rail Enquiries, are planning to move their call centres to India, where labour is cheaper.

Amicus, Britain’s biggest private-sector union, is planning a poster and e-mail campaign to raise the issue of CSR among financial companies, many of which make use of cheap labour in offshore call centres.

Delhi-based Dr Jitendra Nagpal, a psychiatrist at the Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, who counsels “at least” two call centre employees every week, says: “This puts a question mark over the CSR of the companies that operate these call centres.” Nagpal is building up a database of the working conditions in the industry.

A spokesman for Amicus says: “Our campaign will target students, so that they can make an informed choice about the companies that they are borrowing money from. We think it is wrong that the rights extended to workers in the UK are not being offered to those working offshore.”

Recent reports also suggest that call centres in India are being targeted by organised crime and industrial spies hoping to obtain sensitive financial information such as credit card details.

Cover Story, page 26

Latest from Marketing Week

PLEASE SIGN IN OR REGISTER. IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here