MOBILE phone company Orange has played down fears that scores of temporary staff employed in the North-East might lose their jobs.

Orange said that about 90 temporary customer service representatives, based at Darlington, were being offered moves to other centres in the region, such as North Tyneside.

A number of temporary staff were taken on last year to cope with an expected Christmas rush caused by new customers registering their mobile phones.

The employees, who work in overspill accommodation on the Darlington site, would not, the company stressed, lose their jobs if they could not move.

Spokeswoman Maureen Dixon said the temporary staff could be absorbed elsewhere in the Darlington operation.

The process of moving staff would take place over the next three months.

The North Tyneside Orange centre is expanding its customer services department.

The spokeswoman said: "This is good news, as we are still employing these people and moving them into full-time positions."

Orange employs about 6,000 staff in the North-East, including 2,500 in Darlington.

It has 11.9 million customers in the UK, and is the largest and fastest-growing mobile phone operator.