12/19/2005

The Ominous Empire of Darth Veda

"We are reversing the flow of talent and expertise. Instead of providing support services for British companies from India, we are doing it in Britain. The Empire strikes back!"
So says Phiroz Vandrevala, aka Darth Veda, the owner of TCS, according to the Telegraph 'the first Indian firm to open an Indian-run back office in Britain'.
It must have come as something of a shock to the 1000 staff at Pearl Group's IT and call-centre unit in Peterborough to find out, the week before Christmas, that, all of a sudden, they're now working for Mr. Vandrevala.
Time to cash in your Pearl Group endowment policies, if you have them.
Bitter experience of call-centre owners and managers has taught me never to trust any cove who says he wants to make his outfit a 'centre of excellence'. He may be perfectly sincere; but I have heard that once too often in one too many Mickey Mouse outfits to take it seriously.
I wish him well; however, I think he might still have some boning up on the local culture to do.
He's quoted as saying,
"We see the future in hi-tech, on-line systems rather than voice...I am aware that while many graduates in India regard working in a call centre as something aspirational, in Britain it is at the bottom of the food chain, the kind of thing you do when you need a little pocket money"
For some of us, call-centres are the last, indeed the only, game in town. We don't work in them for 'pocket money'; we do it, and believe me most of us would do anything else, in order to do the same things he does, to pay bills and to feed and heat ourselves.
One might even be tempted to make a revolutionary suggestion to Mr. Vandrevala; a course of action which would kill with one stone the two birds of frustrating all questions over his commitment to the UK and the problem of securing the loyalty of his new staff.
Give them a 50% pay rise! It might take some of them up to £9 an hour!
I've already said I wish him well - but I wish his staff better...after all, they're the ones on the phones...and Darth Veda is bringing peace, justice, freedom, security and right-shoring to his new empire...

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