Belfast Telegraph

Jobs axed as TalkTalk closes centre

Some 575 workers at a major employer in the south-east are facing the dole in 30 days after telecoms giant TalkTalk dramatically announced it was shutting its call centre.

The company is pulling the plug on the Waterford operation after a huge fall in customer service phone business and amid plans to outsource. It takes redundancies in the city to more than 2,000 in the last three years, creating the worst unemployment blackspot in the country.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the sudden closure was a real shock and concern for the workers.

"I know from bitter experience the difficulties for families and individuals where jobs are lost for whatever reason," he said.

The call centre will close in 30 days, with staff offered the chance to meet management to discuss transfers. About 80 positions are available to staff willing to move to the UK.

Richard Bruton, jobs minister, was briefed by TalkTalk chiefs but it is understood he was told the decision could not be reversed.

"My thoughts are with the workers impacted by this announcement by TalkTalk, as well as their families," he said.

Mr Bruton urged management to consider giving workers, enterprise chiefs in IDA Ireland and government more time to find a new business for the facility.

He said: "I have asked the IDA to ensure that they make every possible effort to find alternative solutions for this excellent premises and this skilled workforce in the event that the site is closed, as proposed by the company. They assure me that work on this has already started."

TalkTalk bought the Waterford call centre, formerly an AOL broadband support centre for UK and Ireland, in 2008. The company's telephone and broadband business in Ireland and Belgium was acquired by the Digiweb Group last year but the Irish company has no role in the Waterford operation.

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