Talks to open over call centre jobs
Ageas Retail has said it is willing to discuss alternative business proposals for a call centre which is closing with the loss of 200 jobs in west Belfast.
The company met politicians today to explain the reasons for its proposal.
The firm is closing its call centre at Springvale Business Park. It provides outbound calls to potential customers for insurance firms RIAS and Castle Cover.
An Ageas spokesman said: "This is clearly a difficult time for our employees here, and we regret that circumstances have led us to initiate the consultation process. We are making every effort to keep employees and local representatives updated on developments.
"The meeting today has been a useful opportunity to explain to local officials and politicians the reasons behind our proposal and how we are planning to support our employees should the change proceed.
"We are keen to listen to local concerns and discuss any alternative business proposals they might have for the site.
"We will continue to provide updates and consider all options during the coming weeks of the consultation process."
The firm said the Belfast site has become "increasingly uneconomical" due to changing consumer behaviour.
A 90-day redundancy consultation period has started.
SDLP Stormont assembly member Alex Attwood said the firm gave virtually no detail about its decision, including the claim that business in West Belfast was 20% more expensive than in Bournemouth.
"The failure to answer questions when challenged leads to the fear that the company is just taking an easy option.
"Workers who have served this business well deserve much more than being some easy business option."
Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey urged the firm to take on board the views and ideas of staff.
"This decision by Ageas, who have told me that they are still making a profit at their West Belfast site, has been a shock for the workers.
"We must do all that we can to try and secure their livelihoods.
"I have also met with Invest NI who told me they would do everything possible to secure the jobs."