News : Spark Proposes to Close Christchurch 111 Call Centre
Christchurch, New Zealand, Oct 27, 2015 -- Spark is proposing to close its Christchurch emergency call centre and relocate 22 jobs.
It comes months after the telecommunications company proposed to make 24 Christchurch call centre billing staff redundant and move jobs to the Philippines.
Spark answers 111 calls and directs them to the respective emergency services from centres in Wellington and Christchurch.
Operators at the Christchurch call centre, in Beckenham, have been told they are likely to be out of work, unless they are willing to move to Wellington.
Corporate relations general manager Andrew Pirie said the proposed change meant that 111 calls would be answered at the Wellington call centre, with three back-up centres in Palmerston North, Christchurch and Porirua, which moves from Rangiora.
There would be 22 job losses in Christchurch and an increase of 12 jobs in Wellington, which would consist of redeployed Christchurch staff where possible.
"Overall, Spark expects the proposed changes will result in improved resilience, more flexibility to manage service-impacting events and improved staff coverage in day-to-day operations," Pirie said.
Spark had discussed the proposal with emergency services and would look to confirm any changes next week.
"We're confident that service levels will be maintained through any change," Pirie said.
A Spark employee, who did not want to be named, said the sudden announcement to staff, some of whom had been working in the job for several decades, was "appalling and heartless treatment" by the company.
"None of the staff were ever given any indication in advance of what would be happening and Spark has left us with just a month to find new jobs."
The employee said "particularly heartless is the timing of everything", with Christmas two months away.
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"We were given time to give feedback on the closure but basically we were told that the centre would be closed by November 30."
Many staff were on temporary contracts, meaning there would be no redundancy packages, the employee said.
Under the July proposal to make 24 staff redundant and move the billing call centre to the Philippines, all but two took redundancy.
The final two were redeployed to other parts of the business. The company is still in the process of moving the billing call centre service to South East Asia.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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