Over 300 Vodafone jobs to be ‘exported’ to Newry

April 3, 2012

By Christine Keighery

Workers at the Vodafone Call Centre in Dundalk received a massive blow last week with the news that all jobs at the site are to be relocated to Teleperfomance in Newry.  The Dublin Vodafone site is also set to close with staff also expected to relocate to Newry.

A spokesperson for the Communication Workers Union told The Examiner staff were informed during a meeting on March 22nd, that they could either accept relocation or resign.  In the heated debate which followed, the employees were told “in no uncertain terms”, that the Dundalk site would close in six months.  In contrast, subsequent press releases by Vodafone claimed the final relocation decision lay with Teleperformance.

The situation has been compounded by what the CWU’s Terry Delaney described as, Vodafone’s “deceitful campaign to manage the message.” He criticised the content of a leaked internal Question and Answer document which had been prepared by Vodafone to help brief its employees on how to respond to questions from the public on its decision to export jobs. Branding the document a “Masterclass in how to mislead your employees”, the CWU Deputy General Secretary said,

“Not alone is it bad enough to be engaging in corporate spin with the media and the public, but to use your employees as agents in this deception is a new low and truly disgraceful.”

He demanded that the company acknowledge the ultimate consequence – that over three hundred customer care jobs will be “exported to Northern Ireland.”

He said the company had shown a “callous disregard for the livelihoods and futures of Irish workers” and called on Communications Minister, Pat Rabbitte, “to immediately demand a reversal of this decision from Vodafone and a clear statement that the Company will recognise the business benefits it receives with a meaningful contribution to direct jobs in the Irish economy.”

His sentiments were echoed by Louth County Councillor, Martin Murnaghan, who estimated that the transfer of jobs to Newry could mean a loss of nearly €90,000 from the local economy every week, or almost €4.7m. a year

As a former Vodafone worker, the Councillor said he shared the employees’ fears for the future, recognising that many staff will be unable to commute to Newry. He also cited new terms and conditions for workers and cross border taxation difficulties as pressing concerns for the worried workforce.

A spokeperson for Newry’s Teleperformance refused to comment while, in a statement issued to The Examiner, Vodafone said:

“Vodafone Ireland has announced that it has completed a review of the company’s current contracted mobile call centre operations. Following this review, Vodafone Ireland will be adopting a new model for its mobile customer care, resulting in a move to a new provider, Teleperformance, the largest customer care operator in the world.

Head quartered in Newry, Teleperformance currently provides a variety of care and support services to Vodafone Group in a range of other markets, including the UK. The company will bring the latest call centre technology, its global experience and process expertise to Vodafone’s mobile care frontline.

As part of the changes, 26 Vodafone roles and 290 contract roles, currently provided by RigneyDolphin, will transfer to Teleperformance.  Vodafone and RigneyDolphin are entering into a six-week consultation process with employee representatives, following which, Teleperformance will take over the running of these operations in their current locations in Dublin and Dundalk.”

The CWU is to stage a protest against the relocation decision on Easter Saturday, 7th April at The Market Square, Dundalk at 1pm. Under the banner, “Save Dundalk Jobs”, Vodafone protestors will be joined by Eircom and An Post protestors in a rally backed by local businesses and Councillor Martin Murnaghan.  The rally hopes to highlight the impact of recent closures on all Dundalk and Border area jobs.