More than 700 jobs at risk as Virgin Media closeSwansea callentre

More than 700 jobs are at risk after media and telecomms company Virgin Media announced it is to close its Swansea call centre.

The company currently operates eight call centres around the UK and this will be reduced to four which much of its activity focused on its Wythenshawe site near Manchester.

Virgin said the closure will impact on 552 Virgin Media roles and 220 roles with on-site partner, Sitel.

470 Customer Operations roles currently based at the site will transfer to either one of our partners or the soon to be refurbished Wythenshawe site near Manchester. The majority of the remaining roles, which are not part of Customer Operations, will relocate to alternative sites across the UK.

Another 220 on-site partner roles will transfer to Sitels new facility in Bellshill near Glasgow.

Leader of Swansea Council Rob Stewart said his thoughts are very much with the workers and said he will be seeking an urgent meeting along with the Welsh Government to see what can be done to retain jobs.

If we cannot get this decision overturned we will use a team Swansea approach bringing together Jobcentre Plus and our major employers such as TUi and Admiral to explore all local redeployment opportunities that are available.

I have already spoken with the Welsh Government and they are going to convene a task force, as they did when Tesco announced their closure in Cardiff.

On that occasion everyone wanting work got a new job in the locality and I think we should aim for the same here.

We hope Virgin Media will work with us because the company owes the people of Swansea a debt and therefore a legacy.

Todays announcement deepens our concern about failure to invest in rail electrification to Swansea and the competitive disadvantage caused by HS2 in England.

It is now more vital than ever than we deliver the City Deal and the many thousands of jobs this will create. We are about to implement a growth deal that addresses skills and digital connectivity issues which will be key for the future.

Reacting to the news, Carolyn Harris, MP for Swansea East, said: I am stunned and hugely disappointed. This is a massive blow to South Wales and Swansea.

There are people who have given valuable service to the company and built their lives and employment with the company.

I am heartbroken for them and disappointed they have done this. They are not a unionised organisation and the views of the workforce will not be heard, she claimed.

She added: I want to be a voice for them.

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The Swansea contact centre based in Siemens Way is described on the companys website as Virgins official centre of excellence which won a Welsh Contact Centre of the Year in 2012.

The call centre expanded in February 2013 where an extra 230 jobs were announced. The company said then the Swansea workforce was its strength and the city was aneasy place to recruit.

ITV Wales understands redundancies will began in January and the whole site will close in June.

The company will be offering some relocation will be offered with opportunities in India and Manchester.

Last year Virgin Media began a three year property investment programme to create fewer, higher quality work places to better support our people, our business and growing customer base.

As a result we plan to invest an additional 40 million over the next three years to refurbish key sites and acquire new alternative sites. As part of this we intend to create four regional customer operations hubs while increasing the flexibility of our customer services resources.

As a consequence, we have proposed the customer operations roles currently based at our Swansea site will transfer to either one of our partners or to a soon to be refurbished site at Wythenshawe near Manchester.

The majority of the remaining roles will relocate to alternative sites across the UK. This means that our site in Swansea will close by the autumn of 2019.

We are now working with and supporting all employees who have been asked to relocate, who may be in a role at risk of redundancy or who may wish to take another role with Virgin Media or one of our partners.

Economy Secretary, Ken Skates said the news was disappointing.

This is extremely disappointing news. All our efforts will now turn to supporting the award winning workforce at the site, who now face a period of uncertainty over their future employment. We will use the forthcoming 45 day consultation period to work closely with the company, Swansea Council and other partners exploring all available options in a bid to achieve the best possible outcome for staff.

Ken Skates, Economy Secretary

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