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East Lancashire call centre staff told to move to India to keep jobs
12:00pm Tuesday 18th February 2014 in News
BOSSES at an East Lancashire call centre told staff that they could relocate to India to keep their jobs, an employment tribunal has been told.
Around 250 staff were sacked by outsourcing giant Sitel in November 2012 after employees were told the company had lost a major contract with the holiday website Expedia and the work was being exported to Bangalore.
Around 115 are now claiming unfair dismissal from Sitel, over their employment at Accrington's Globe Centre, in a class action being heard in Manchester.
Part-time worker Joanne Fenton, from Darwen, said she had been 'quite distressed' to turn up for work and find the call centre was empty.
The tribunal heard she had missed an initial announcement informing staff, on August 31, that the Expedia contract was set to be lost and a 90-day redundancy consultant was underway.
Operations manager Anthony Brittain, from Burnley, said he would have liked to have sat on the employees forum but was told there were no spaces for senior management.
He also complained that he was not offered a one-on-one consultation about his future — and that Expedia had originally offered to continue the contract until February 2013. Laura Sanderson, of Oswaldtwistle, another part-time worker who studied at university, said she was only offered her one-on-one meeting before she started work at 5pm.
But Colin Bourne, representing Sitel, told the tribunal that all staff had been guaranteed an interview with another call centre operation TSC Heroes in Warrington.
And he insisted that Sitel had taken a 'rational business decision' to wind down the Accrington operation, when staff began to leave for new positions after the Expedia announcement.
He told the hearing that there was the potential for staff to transfer to India, though it was accepted the majority may be unwilling.
The tribunal heard claims from several witnesses that the 'employee forum' used to keep staff informed regarding the redundancy process was not well-regarded.
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