Offshoring is "Psychologically Disturbing"

This has come to an ugly head in recent years with the mass offshoring of U.S. call center jobs. These workers answer questions that American consumers have about their phone bills, computers, credit cards, insurance polices, etc. Curious about a long-distance charge on your phone bill? If you call your company's toll-free service number, you're likely to reach someone like Rahail Manzoor in India.


An Indian trade group says there are 350,000 people there working in such back-office service jobs for U.S. corporations, and the number is expected to grow by 40 percent this year alone. The corporations are tapping India's vast pool of workers who are English-speaking, tech-savvy... and cheap.


But these workers are also nervous wrecks, for they know that Americans are very angry about the offshoring of middle-class jobs--and American callers often take out their anger on them, using creative combinations of four-letter words. The Indian call centers try deception to deflect this anger. Rahail Manzoor, for example, is told to call himself "Jim" on the phone, and he has undergone lessons in how to speak "American." Some call centers have giant TV screens showing the current weather in U.S. cities, the latest sports scores, and such, so workers can make small talk and pretend to be in the U.S.

But many callers know better and berate the poor operators, who are under such stress that they suffer all sorts of debilitating illnesses. It's "psychologically disturbing," says Manzoor.

It's also psychologically disturbing for Americans to see our middle-class future exported, while CEOs calmly count the billions of dollars that they rake in by pitting us against the Indians. To help unite workers here and there, call the AFL-CIO's international department: 202-637-5050.


Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Close

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.