Jobs lost as Aintree call centre closes

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Telephone. Pic © Nightflyer / Wikimedia Creative Commons

Telephone. Pic © Nightflyer / Wikimedia Creative Commons

Aintree call centre bosses have announced the loss of 450 jobs after confirming redundancy plans following consultation with retail union Usdaw.

Webhelp, a customer service provider which runs the call centres on behalf of Speke-based e-tailor Shop Direct, announced a shake-up involving the closure of the Liverpool operation and a sister site in Bolton.

David Turner, Webhelp’s UK chief executive, said: “In the last few months we’ve worked closely with Usdaw and our employee consultative forums to come up with a plan that would keep the contact centres in Bolton and Aintree operating at the same level as they are now.

“Unfortunately, we have been unable to agree a commercially viable way of doing that.”

The Aintree centre will close in April 2017, later than the Bolton centre which will shut down in March or April next year. Webhelp said it would work with Usdaw to examine ways to avoid job losses.

Turner said the shake-up was due to the move from phone-based customer inquiries to digital, saying: “This has been driven by where the customer is coming from. We can see that in the world that we are in. The future is definitely going to accelerate to a greater digital challenge.”

The plans will not, however, affect a further 400 staff who are still directly employed Shop Direct at the Aintree centre. The firm has also confirmed that its proposals made in September, to restructure the call centre teams working on the Shop Direct account, will go ahead.

The new structure will involve the movement of work to other sites. The UK site will be in Cardiff, whilst some workers could be relocated as far as South Africa.

Usdaw divisional officer Mike Aylward said: “Our members are on the floor after hearing the truth about this morally bankrupt decision to close Aintree and Bolton. No British worker can compete with £2.39 per hour in South Africa and we should not have to.

“The company should have loyalty to the workforce and the community that made them what they are. We are now holding a ballot of our members to understand what they wish to do next.”

About Ben Cummings, JMU Journalism