News : Ballarat Taxis Co-op Call Centre's Future Up in the Air
Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, Dec 17, 2015 -- The Ballarat Taxis Co-op could decide as soon as next month to close the local call centre and move some, if not all, bookings to a Melbourne-run company.
Co-op chairman Stephen Armstrong said the directors could decide at the January meeting on the future of the local call centre, which covers both Ballarat and Shepparton taxis.
One driver, who did not want to be named, said they were worried moving the call centre away from Ballarat could have consequences for drivers’ safety.
"We’re really worried – now the duress alarms are answered quickly by people we really know. (The Melbourne company) already has 50 taxi companies to look after," the driver said, also concerned about the call centre workers.
(The Co-op is) more worried about their PR than the jobs."
Mr Armstrong said the Bendigo and Geelong taxi industries had survived the closure of local centres with no adverse effects on driver safety.
"This happened in Bendigo 20 years ago, in Geelong 10 years. Ballarat is the last (area) to maintain an urban call centre," he said.
"The service did not diminish in those areas."
Despite the concern, Mr Armstrong said there were other options on the table for the call centre and its employees.
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"Another option we’re looking at is keeping part of that call centre open," he said.
"Another option would be keeping it open from eight to five during the day, for the specialised runs and services."
Another driver said the lack of information from the Co-op was unsurprising.
"It seems another thing board are talking about but not relaying that information to anyone else," the driver said.
Mr Armstrong said industry conditions meant they had to consider the call centre and its workers’ future, and that they had raised it with workers so they had prior warning of the idea.
"There are mainly financial considerations involved," he said.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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