News : Glasgow Set to Benefit from Brora's Job Woes
August 8, 2014 -- Glasgow is set to benefit from job losses in east Sutherland, it has emerged.
The city is expected to gain around nine new jobs if the Serco contact centre at Brora closes as anticipated on 11th September with the loss of 21 posts.
Serco bosses this week expressed regret at the likely shutdown.
Last week’s closure announcement came out of the blue, shocking the Serco workforce who had thought their jobs were safe.
The unit at Brora’s industrial estate has now gone into a 45-day consultation period – described as a "paper exercise" by employees.
But Serco’s customer services director Garry Robinson said that it had not been a "small or quick decision by any stretch of the imagination".
Mr Robinson flew from Manchester to Inverness on Tuesday to discuss the situation with Highland Council’s director of planning and development Stuart Black and Vicky Grant, Highlands and Islands Enterprise senior executive business services.
Serco has pledged to work with the authorities in a bid to find a new source of work for the contact centre.
"We’re working with HIE and Highland Council to see what we can to try and help resolve the situation," he said.
Mr Robinson explained the closure had been driven by a dramatic reduction in the number of calls to health information and advice help lines manned by the Brora workers.
Under the terms of its contract, Serco is paid per call received.
He said people were increasingly accessing health information online rather than through contact centres — a move encouraged by the government because it reduces costs.
"The volume of calls has dropped through the floor since the back end of last year, forcing us to review the Brora operation," revealed Mr Robinson.
The firm, which also recently lost its contract to provide environmental action and parking information lines on behalf of Westminster City Council from its Dingwall contact centre, decided to consolidate its operations at its Glasgow headquarters.
"We looked at our two sites in Glasgow and Brora and the costs of running both units.
"We knew we had to reduce the operation in Brora from 21 jobs to around nine. Glasgow was big enough to hold the Brora operation but Brora was not big enough to hold the Glasgow operation," he said.
"The only option was to close Brora. It was a purely commercial decision."
Mr Robinson said Serco could have retained the Brora unit if other business was in the offing but this was not the case.
"We cannot see any new contracts in the foreseeable future," he said.
He added: "It isn’t as if we are closing the door on the north of Scotland, it is just that we simply don’t have the work at the moment.
"Things could change over the next 12 months. We could win a lot more business but as of now there is nothing in the pipeline."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, August 11, 2014