LOCAL anger at the closure of the Vodafone call centre in Dundalk spilled over into the Dail last Wednesday when Deputy Seamus Kirk raised the issue and spoke of the difficulties many workers will face in relocating to Newry or Dublin.
“There are 317 people working at the Dundalk Vodafone mobile call centre, between direct Vodafone workers and Rigney Dolphin, who are contractors to Vodafone.
“We are told that after a review by Vodafone of their mobile call centre operations, they will now transfer to another provider, Teleperformance,” added Kirk.
The Deputy also questioned the information coming from the Vodafone management in relation to future plans.
“While Vodafone said there would be no change in the terms and conditions of those currently employed and no jobs would be lost, staff in Dundalk have been told they will have to move to Newry or Dublin”, added the local TD.
Deputy Kirk was at pain to show the basic logistic and financial issues which will effect the employees.
“The problems associated with people, many with families, of having to move were obviously not taken into consideration by Vodafone. Workers have been told that most of the jobs will most likely transfer to Newry, where the wages will immediately be reduced. The Communication Workers’ Union have said that redundancies will arise out of the difficulties for people in having to transfer.”
Mr Kirk also alluded to an individual story he had come across to reinforce his point further.
“I know of one worker that has been employed in the mobile call centre for ten years. He is due to get married soon and he can’t afford to drive 100 miles a day to work in Dublin.”
Mr Kirk also called upon the government to intervene and organise a meeting as soon as possible with the company.
“Minister Bruton needs to meet with management of Vodafone and both service providers immediately. He needs to put forward employees’ concerns and seek a way in which the transfer of services could be smoother with these concerns taken into consideration.”
In a statement to the media Vodafone Ireland attempted to clarify the matter for those affected.
“We have agreed with Teleperformance that in the event of a move to Newry, every Vodafone and Rigney Dolphin employee will have the right to go to Newry when their role relocates. Teleperformance have guaranteed that terms and conditions will carry forward to Newry for anyone who chooses to make this move. A solution for those who will not transfer to Newry will be discussed through the consultation.”
Sinn Fein TD Gerry Adams has also been critical of the “lacklustre response of the government” to the issue.
The local TD received a letter in response to questions he sent to Vodafone Ireland from Director Paul Ryan.
According to Mr Adams the letter he received leaves many questions unanswered and he stated that he will continue to seek further information on the company’s plans.
Vodafone employees have set up a campaign slogan in their fight to save their jobs.
Employee Kieran Pickering spoke to the Dundalk Democrat about the campaign.
“We need to get everybody behind this and have everyone working together for the cause. The slogan is ‘Stand Strong and Stand together’, we created a Facebook page and lots of people have used it as their update status to show their support.”