Uddingston, Scotland, Nov 24, 2016 -- More than 500 Lanarkshire call centre jobs will go next year with the closure of an Uddingston call centre.
Stunned staff at Kwik Fit Insurance Services in Tannochside Park were given the news on Tuesday.
The centre, which opened in 1995, employed over 1000 people more than five years ago. It was bought by insurance company Ageas in July 2010, but is now set to close in March.
The 521-strong workforce, who were sent home on Tuesday with details of the plans, are currently undergoing a 45-day "consultation".
One worker said staff were visibly upset as the announcement was made. Another commented: "People were more upset than angry to be honest. But when you think about it there are entire families who work in that place.
"It’s a shame. We are all trying to figure out what is going on."
North Lanarkshire councillor Bob Burrows, whose Thorniewood ward takes in the call centre, described the job losses as devastating.
He said: "This is going to have a massive impact – not only in my ward – but across Lanarkshire. People work at the centre from across the county and beyond.
"It’s imperative that the Scottish Government set up a task force to look at how these job losses can be mitigated.
"I have spoken to a number of Kwik Fit call centre employees. They are devastated. It’s difficult news at any time of the year, but particularly four weeks before Christmas."
Bellshill and Uddingston SNP MSP Richard Lyle described the announcement to shut the Tannochside premises as a "severe blow".
He added: "Understandably this will be a very difficult time for the workforce and everyone affected. I have been in contact with Ageas to ask that they ensure staff are meaningfully included in the consultation and that uncertainty over their future is kept to a minimum, and will be visiting the workforce on Friday to provide support.
"The Scottish Government is actively involved in providing all necessary support for concerned individuals through the Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) initiative, and I would encourage members of the workforce with concerns of who may be looking for advice to use this service to contact me as their local MSP."
Central Scotland Labour MSP Monica Lennon said: "This is awful news for the hundreds of Kwik Fit insurance staff and their families affected by this decision, particularly so close to Christmas.
"I will be writing to the Scottish Government to ask what urgent action they will be taking to support staff at this difficult time."
Ageas UK said in a statement this week that their decision to close the call centre was "market driven". It pointed out: "Kwik Fit Insurance Services has been under pressure for some time as a result of changes in the way people buy insurance and the way the personal insurance market now operates. We have made a number of attempts to address this but they have not been sufficient to improve performance and address declines in
"This means difficult choices have to be considered. Subject to employee consultation, we are proposing to close our Uddingston office next year.
"This is clearly very difficult news for our employees, and is not a course of action we have taken lightly.
"Our priority is to support them through what we know is a very unsettling time. We are committed to listening to them, and being open and transparent during the consultation."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
ageas SA/NV is a multinational insurance company co-headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. Ageas is Belgium's largest insurer and operates in 14 countries worldwide.
Published: Friday, November 25, 2016
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