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600 CALL CENTRE JOBS SET TO COME ON LINE; Digital TV bosses to boost Scots workforce.

DIGITAL television and free Internet access have sparked a 3000-strong jobs bonanza for Scotland.

Satellite giants BSkyB said yesterday they would take on an extra 600 staff at call centres in Livingston, West Lothian, and Dunfermline, Fife.

It was immediately hailed as a "tribute to the existing workforce" by West Lothian Council.

Spokeswoman Carol Bartholomew said: "It is gratifying that a major local employer is demonstrating faith."

BSkyB bosses last night revealed rocketing sales of digital decoders and free Internet access.

Since the offer was launched on May 5, 2344 extra people have been taken on at the two Scottish call centres.

And the latest announcement of 600 jobs takes the total to more than 3000 extra workers, taking the force in Livingston and Dunfermline up to 6371.

The jobs opened as phone lines were jammed by people wanting to take up the offer.

And there was more good news as 1240 extra engineers are to be recruited across the UK and 2053 installers will be hired shortly - about 200 of them in Scotland.

BSkyB chief executive Tony Ball said: "I am delighted that Sky Digital's success has given such a significant boost to the Scottish economy.

"Our call centres in Livingston and Dunfermline have been crucial to our relationship with our customers for the past 10 years.

"We have long been proud of their efficiency and I am determined they are adequately resourced to meet the enormous rise in demand for our product."

First Minister Donald Dewar also welcomed the announcement. He said: "It is excellent news that BSkyB has decided to expand their operations in Scotland.

"It is testament to the skills, dedication and commitment of BSkyB's existing staff that the company has decided this major expansion of its operations should take place in Scotland."

Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, has seen thousands of new call centre jobs in recent years - a boon in areas of high unemployment.

This boost has come because the Scots accent is hugely popular and workers are considered reliable and flexible.

But surveys have shown staff at some centres suffer from stress and that pay and conditions are poor.

Last month, the Record revealed how some firms pay Scots staff substantially less than English workers.

Midland Bank was yesterday accused of "habitually under-paying" Scots workers.

Staff in Edinburgh earn around pounds 1000 a year less than colleagues in cities like Leeds and Sheffield.

The bank claims it reflects the difference in living costs.

But the Record has already revealed that Midland-owned First Direct pay workers at their Hamilton call centre pounds 1800 a year less than those in Leeds.

Hundreds of Cable & Wireless operators in Glasgow were also told they must accept lower rates.

Cable & Wireless sub- contracts their operator work to Glasgow-based Excell Multimedia, who employ 200 in Birmingham and 500 at two Glasgow sites.
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 6, 1999
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