A surprise announcement of the loss of almost 600 jobs from a call centre operation in Waterford has shocked staff and left government officials struggling to frame a response.
British company ‘TalkTalk’, which provides broadband and telephony services in Britain, announced their Waterford centre’s planned closure, just as workers were due to celebrate the company’s 10th anniversary.
Many employees turned up at the centre in a state of shock. Some had been on holidays or on days off, while several said they learned of the news on the internet.
Derek Allen, who had been with the company for eight years, said: “We got an e-mail only yesterday telling us we had a record performance last month; the highest figures ever achieved.”
It was ironic, he added, that the company’s tenth anniversary party was to take place in Manchester this weekend.
“They’re paying for the accommodation for... people from Waterford to go over and stay in hotels. They can bring their families... they can spend all of this money and at the same time they can’t give us an actual reason as to why our jobs are gone,” he said.
“At the same time they told us this, with no notice; with no indications whatsoever. To tell people who have worked for 10 years in the job in seven minutes that their jobs are gone and the reasons seem to me to be very, very shallow and very cynical,” Mr Allen added.
Alan Butler, a worker with four years’ service, added: “It’s shocking; I’m disappointed. The way they drive you in there is, ‘Work harder for the company; do this for the company, do that for the company’. And then they completely pull the rug from under you. Not even a phone call.”
Employee Lisa Weldon, said: “They’re being greedy, they’re being selfish, they are being mean. We’ve worked like dogs for them for the last six years. AOL was lovely to work for. The minute TalkTalk took over everything changed. We were like robots, working for them.”
For Nicola Starmer, a mother-of-four working at TalkTalk for the past 19 months, yesterday was her day off.
“I decided to drive out here and as I was driving the lunchtime news came on and obviously I heard the company was making an announcement.”
Company management conceded employees were given no indication prior to yesterday that their jobs were about to go.
They blamed high wage costs in Ireland, as well as Ireland’s membership of the Euro currency, for the decision to move the call centre operations to Asia.
“This is a crisis situation, not just for Waterford but for the entire South East of the country which has the highest rate of unemployment in the state,” said Sinn Fein Senator David Cullinane
“The reality is that this government is failing abysmally, not just to create jobs but also to protect them.
“We need action now. The government’s so-called jobs initiative has amounted to nothing. Today’s announcement shows the true scale of the jobs crisis that this country is going through.”