News : Sydney Call Centre Closure to Affect 130 People
Sydney, NS, Oct 28, 2014 -- The closure of the Sykes Inc. call centre was announced to employees on Tuesday. It will affect approximately 130 employees. The last day of work is Jan. 30.
Sykes says it offers customer care to technical support to its clients. Its only client at the Sydney site is Bell Canada. Employees handle billing inquiries, direct marketing and upselling to Bell’s customers.
An employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he had signed a confidentiality agreement with Sykes, said some people with as much as 10 to 14 years experience at the call centre were too upset to work. They went home shortly after the announcement was made at 2 p.m.
"There was a young guy I was talking to. He’s 22 and has been working there since he was 18. That’s his job, right. It’s all he knows," the employee said.
The announcement didn’t come as a total surprise to some, he said.
The lease on part of the building Sykes occupies from Schwartz Furniture was to expire at the end of the year, he said.
There were other indications such as the slow pace of hiring new employees to replace those who quit working there, the employee added.
"Our group was getting smaller and smaller. We were at about 75 people (on our account), and now we’re down to about 10. They weren’t rehiring so I knew something was up."
A Sykes spokeswoman, based in Tampa, Fla., confirmed the decision to close the call centre in a telephone interview with the Cape Breton Post.
Andrea Burnett Thomas said Sykes is closing due to "market conditions." The Sydney site, located on Vulcan Avenue, will be the only one shut down.
There are nine other Sykes call centres in Canada, including three in New Brunswick and two in Newfoundland.
It doesn’t have any other call centres in Nova Scotia.
"We’ve met with the employees (Tuesday) to go over the notice of layoff so any additional information we will communicate directly to our employees," Burnett Thomas said.
She said some employees might be offered the chance to continue with the company if they’re willing to work from home. Some already do work from home.
"We do have a virtual platform that we serve various clients from and we’re extending them an opportunity to work as a home-based agent.
"The opportunity still has to match with the employee’s experience, skill set, and interest, of course. But we are making it known to them all the opportunities that exist within our virtual operations."
Sykes originally operated as ICT Group when it opened its doors in October 1998. It was among the first large call centres to set up shop in Cape Breton.
In March 2008, the provincial government offered ICT Group funding if it met job targets each year over a five-year period. The goal was to employ as many as 200 people.
The grant was issued through the province's private sector-led business development agency, Nova Scotia Business Inc.
In 2010, Sykes acquired ICT Group Inc.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Thursday, October 30, 2014