Southeast shocked at decision by Waterford call centre to close with loss of 575 jobs


THE SOUTHEAST has been dealt a major jobs blow by the decision of British-owned telecoms firm TalkTalk to close its call centre in Waterford with the loss of 575 jobs within 30 days.

Employees learned of the news when they were called to a meeting at the plant yesterday afternoon. At the meeting local management announced the company was closing its Waterford operation which provides support for its British customers.

TalkTalk Group in Britain later issued a statement in which it said it had taken the decision to close the Waterford call centre on foot of a 40 per cent reduction in its call centre business over the past year as more of its five million customers opt to deal with them online.

Last June TalkTalk announced it had selected global services providers Wipro and Transcom as outsourcing partners, and both will take over a portion of the Waterford business. The remainder will be transferred to TalkTalk’s British sites.

The company, which globally employs about 3,500 directly, has been in Waterford since 2008, when it acquired AOL. At one stage TalkTalk employed more than 700 people in Waterford.

The firm said the closure of the Waterford site would allow it to reduce the complexity of its operation, simplify its skills set and bring benefits to its customers as quickly as possible while also limiting its exposure to exchange rate fluctuations involving the euro.

“It is important to emphasise that this proposal in no way reflects on the Waterford team’s performance and commitment. They have shown huge dedication and care in serving our customers over the years,” the company said in its statement.

A TalkTalk spokeswoman said the issue of redundancy terms would form part of consultations between the workers – who are not unionised – and the company over the next 30 days.

News of the closure was greeted with shock and dismay both at Government level and locally in Waterford.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said he had urged TalkTalk chief executive Dido Harding to continue with operations in Waterford.

If the company was proceeding with closure plans, then he asked it to delay the closure to allow the Government find an alternative business.

Mr Bruton said he had also contacted the IDA and other enterprise support agencies and asked them to make every effort to find alternative employment for the workforce in the event of the Waterford site being closed.

He plans to travel to Waterford next week to meet workers and management.

Waterford Chamber of Commerce president Annemarie Caulfield said news of the closure was “a very big shock” to the people of Waterford and the southeast, especially as it brings to about 3,000 the number of jobs lost in the region in the past four years.

Ms Caulfield said it was vital the Government set about creating jobs in Waterford as the area’s unemployment rate was higher than the national average.

She said failure to tackle the problem would result in Waterford becoming a jobs blackspot which would make recovery all the more difficult.

Local Independent TD John Halligan said the manner in which workers learned of the closure was particularly shocking. While they knew that business was down, none expected to be told that the plant was going to be shut down in one fell swoop.

“I spoke to people who went into the work today and the first they knew was when they were told there was going to be a meeting this afternoon.

“Even then people thought there might be some cutbacks but nobody expected the whole plant to be closed. People are staggered.”