Jobs fears in Consignia call centre shake-up

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The Independent Online

Consignia, parent company of the Post Office, is axing 59 of its 70 call centres as part of a massive £30m shake-up. Staff fear wholesale redundancies among the 4,500 employees concerned but management says most will be offered transfers to the new centres or jobs elsewhere in the business.

The cutback is part of a three-year rationalisation programme ordered by the state-owned business to meet the growing threat of private sector competition.

Instead of its sprawling network of call centres of varying size dealing with customer complaints and inquires, management has decided to establish 11 "super centres".

Workers at one of the centres to be closed at Dartford, in Kent, are voting on industrial action in protest at the closure. Leaders of the Communication Workers' Union are due to meet managers on Wednesday. John Keggie, the deputy general secretary of the union, said compulsory redundancies would be resisted.

The new offices will cover Parcel-force, Royal Mail and the Post Office, taking responsibility for a million calls a month. Consignia has been warned by the industry regulator that unless it becomes more efficient, licences will be issued to private groups to set up in competition. An independent report recently said the organisation's management practices and its industrial relations' record were "frankly dire".

Consignia intends to concentrate its call centre operations in Bristol. Plymouth, Barnsley, Oxford, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds. Stoke-on-Trent. Colchester, Bangor, in north Wales, and Belfast.

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