News : Anger Over Plans to Axe 350 Jobs at Flagship Bury Call Centre
Bury, UK, Aug 26, 2015 -- A total of 350 jobs are to be axed at a flagship Bury call centre which for many years was the town's biggest private employer.
The shock news, following a move by Capita to pull its O2 work out of their site in Dumers Lane, has been condemned by the leader of Bury Council who says the proposals will have a "devastating effect" on the local economy and people's livelihoods.
Cllr Mike Connolly claimed that he and Bury South MP Ivan Lewis were "clearly misled" in 2013 when Capita denied a newspaper report that they had drawn up documents to shut the Bury call centre within three years, saying they were committed to safeguarding the future of the workforce.
He has now demanded an urgent meeting with the firm.
Sandra Walmsley, lead Communications Workers Union (CWU) representative at the Dumers Lane site, said: "The mood here is one of sadness – people feel utterly depressed. Some have worked here for between 10 and 15 years and have been loyal to this company for a long time."
She said staff will be offered redeployment at other sites at Preston Brook in Runcorn and Leeds.
In 2013, 734 of the 1,200-strong O2 workforce at Bury had their jobs transferred to Capita, a business process outsourcing firm.
More than a month ago, Capita launched a discretionary voluntary redundancy (DVR) programme at the Bury call centre, apparently prompted by an anticipated reduction in call volumes.
Miss Walmsley said: "At the time they didn't make it clear to staff what options there would be for people who chose not to take DVR. Due to the lack of information, and without any security around jobs here, more and more people applied, although the exact numbers haven't been disclosed. But anyone who did apply has pretty much been accepted.
"Now, Capita has told us that O2 work continuing in Bury is no longer sustainable because of the small numbers who would be left. They will be withdrawing all the O2 work from Bury on October 31."
Commenting on the redeployment proposals, Miss Walmsley added: "The problem is that a lot of staff work part-time, a lot are women and many have carer responsibilities. We are deeply concerned about the impact this will have on our members and the local community. Many staff live in the borough and the impact for them and other families will be significant, not least from an economic point of view."
She will be meeting Capita management early next month, and added: "We are trying to prioritise job security for the people who want to stay on in Bury and to talk about more redeployment options. But it is clear that Capita have made a decision to withdraw the O2 work from the site after 16 years of its operation in the town. It is hugely disappointing for the people of Bury."
Commenting on the loss of the 350 posts, Cllr Connolly continued: "It will worsen job prospects for our residents, take £4 million a year out of the local economy and undoubtedly lead to an increase in demand for hard-pressed public services.
"My understanding is that there has been little or no reduction in call volumes and that Capita are already having to take contingency action, even with current staffing levels, to maintain service standards. To add insult to injury, it also appears that Capita is continuing to recruit at its site at Dearne Valley in Rotherham for the very roles that it is proposing to cut in Bury. I speak for everyone in the borough when I say that we feel incredibly let down by Capita."
The call centre will remain open, though, as other staff at Dumers Lane work for separate companies.
The Bury Times put a series of questions to Capita, most of which they declined to answer.
But a spokesman did say: "A core focus of the Capita O2 partnership is to transform the service and as such we are responding to O2 customers’ increasing need to interact over digital channels, rather than traditional customer service telephone channels.
"There are no plans to close the Bury site, which is used to administer other contracts. However, the vast majority of staff working on the O2 contract in Bury have applied for voluntary redundancy and we are working closely with them to accommodate their preferred leave date. We are running a series of recruitment events, local employer workshops, careers clinics, CV writing and interview classes. Those staff that have not opted for voluntary redundancy will be given the opportunity to transfer."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Friday, August 28, 2015