SHOCKED employees at the Vodafone Ireland call centre in Dundalk are still being kept in the dark over their futures, following the company’s announcement to close the centre within the next six months and outsource jobs to a new provider in Newry.
Staff at the centre on the Ramparts Road were informed of the closure last Thursday afternoon at a brief meeting and a six week consultation process began yesterday (Monday).
However, there has been no clear indication of the full impact the announcement will have on the employees future working conditions at this stage.
When pressed on the matter a representative for Rigney Dolphin (Vodafone’s recruitment provider) stated that “yes” Dundalk will be closed within six months and that jobs will be transferred to a new company based in Newry called Teleperformance.
The press release given to staff stated that “As part of the changes, 312 Rigney Dolphin employees will transfer to Teleperformance.
“Rigney Dolphin will engage in a six-week consultation process with employee representatives, following which Teleperformance will take over the management of these roles in their current locations in Dublin and Dundalk.”
In a statement to union members, the Communications Workers Union (CWU), which represents employees of Vodafone and Rigney Dolphin, called the decision a “devastating blow” and strongly condemned the company’s actions.
“Vodafone is a hugely profitable company making substantial profits year on year from its Irish operations and in order to trim costs further it has decided to basically move its customer operations out of this jurisdiction, cutting off the ability of its loyal workforce to continue to earn a living.”
On the issue of the outsourcing of the jobs to Newry, the CWU further criticsed Vodafone’s tactics.
“What Vodafone is suggesting is that employees, irrespective of their current work location, will have to transfer to Newry if they wish to maintain their employment or loose their job.”
According to worried staff, very little information was forthcoming and members of the new employment provider Teleperformance were not present for consultation either.
A member of staff, who did not wish to be named, stated that “if you don’t agree to go to Newry in the next few months then you have to discuss it with the new company. We have no answers here.”
Workers at the centre refused to return to calls following the brief announcement on Thursday and The Dundalk Democrat was unable to get through to anybody in the centre that afternoon as the confusion and worry continued.
According to the Deputy General Secretary of the CWU, Terry Delany, some 353 people will be affected by the announcement, between Vodafone’s two sites in Dundalk and Dublin.
Sinn Fein TD Gerry Adams demanded further clarity on the consequences for workers at the call centre.
“There have been conflicting reports emerging about the possible consequences for workers in Dundalk and Dublin of the decision by Vodafone to transfer its call centre operations from Rigney Dolphin to Teleperformance in Newry.
“Workers and their families require and deserve clarity from Vodafone and Rigney Dolphin about this move and what it means for them.
“I have written to Vodafone asking specific questions on this, in particular for clarification about the future of the jobs in Dundalk,” added the local TD.
Mr Adams also called upon Vodafone to “honour its obligations to its workers” given the “substantial profits” being made from its Irish operations and the low corporation tax level they enjoy here.
It also emerged that the current union (CWU) were unsure whether they will be able to represent the workers if they take up the new positions in Newry.