Belfast Telegraph

90 jobs to be axed at Firstsource's Belfast call centre

By John Mulgrew

Call centre giant Firstsource is cutting up to 90 jobs in Belfast, it has emerged. The firm, which provides outsourcing for companies including Sky, employs around 1,500 people in Northern Ireland.

However, it's understood the Indian-owned business is now axing around 90 staff in the next couple of weeks.

The posts are set to go at its Oyster House operation in Belfast city centre, and the firm says that this "will likely impact around 90 employees".

It's believed the posts are related to the firm's deal with Sky.

Firstsource employs over 27,000 employees worldwide, across 44 centres. More than 1,500 of its global workforce are based in Northern Ireland.

Just last month, Firstsource said it had reached a new 10-year customer service deal with Sky.

A spokesman for the company said: "Firstsource is fully committed to the Northern Ireland marketplace and is continuing to invest in the region.

"As part of our long-standing relationship with Sky, we have been working with them to maximise the customer experience we provide through our service operation in Belfast.

"As a result, we are reducing the scale of operations in our Oyster House centre and this will likely impact around 90 employees."

The company said it will try to "redeploy" affected staff to other centres.

The bulk of the firm's Northern Ireland workforce is based in Londonderry, with around 950 workers, while there are currently around 400 staff working in Belfast.

"We are actively exploring opportunities to redeploy affected employees across our other Northern Ireland centres, and are working to provide confirmation to those impacted as quickly as possible," the company said.

"We are committed to treating every employee with respect and are liaising closely with all affected employees to provide support and reassurance during this process.

"Our other operations in Northern Ireland are unaffected by this announcement. Northern Ireland continues to be a core part of our business - we have been operating successfully here for over 10 years and we remain as committed as ever to the region."

Firstsource is now providing broadband and TV customer service until 2026 after media giant Sky decided to consolidate its outsourcing deals with the company, earlier this year.

A spokesman for Firstsource last month said: "Sky is one of its key clients here across its sites in Belfast and Londonderry.

"The contract extension will provide employment security for many staff here and demonstrates the company's continued commitment to Northern Ireland."

Earlier this year, a number of staff at call centre firm Concentrix were let go in Belfast.

It came after the company, which employs more than 1,800 staff in Belfast, was criticised following a botched outsourcing scheme. It was given the HMRC contract to reduce fraud and error in the tax credits system.

However it saw some claimants being wrongly stripped of their benefits.

The majority of that work was carried out at its Belfast office.

A report from the National Audit Office (NAO) highlighted the failings of the scheme.

It said at one stage Concentrix was dealing with a backlog of more than 180,000 tax credit claims at the height of the botched plan. Compensation payments totalling almost £87,000 were paid out to tax credit claimants who suffered as the result of the outsourcing.

And in Co Fermanagh, hundreds of proposed call centre jobs have still not been created more than a year after they were announced.

The 800 posts by Teleperformance were to be added over a three-year period in Enniskillen and were announced in October 2015.

The jobs are due to pay an average of £14,700 and are backed by £2.5m from Invest NI.

However, former Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said major communication infrastructure upgrades are needed before the posts can be put in place.

Belfast Telegraph