Wednesday, April 29, 2009

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Massive layoff notice at Convergys callcentre in Canada

Related Story: Call centre layoffs climb
Nearly half of all employees at the Convergys call centre in Kamloops could be looking for work by the end of June. According to Convergys officials, the company plans to lay off 240 employees, effective June 30. Amy Williams, a spokeswoman for Convergys, told KTW the layoffs are the result of an anticipated decrease in call volume because of "a change in client business" at the site.

While Convergys wouldn't say who the client is, a source told KTW the company is credit-card giant American Express, and employees working on its account, including management, will be let go. It is unclear if the layoffs effect full-time or part-time employees. The company told staff the news on Wednesday.

Williams said Convergys is actively looking for a new customer to serve the centre, which could negate the layoff. "If [a new customer] could be found, and we could get a deal before the June 30th date, but I can't speculate on that," she said.

She also noted the company is offering severance packages to employees. There are currently 600 employees at the Valleyview call centre. The company at one time was the largest private employer in Kamloops.

Last year, rumours swirled around possible closures of Convergys call centres after its CEO hinted the company might close unprofitable sites in Canada. As it turned out, its Red Deer operation was closed.

Mayor Peter Milobar said he hopes the impact of the layoffs will be "negligible" and the city can absorb them. "It's definitely not a good thing... obviously for the 240 people affected it's a very significant impact to their lives," he said.

He also downplayed the suggestion the layoffs are a sign Kamloops is being pulled into the worldwide economic crisis. Milobar maintained other major employers in Kamloops in areas such as the health and education sector, along with the likes of Domtar in the forest industry, are still doing well.

He also said because of its U.S. based customers and the trouble in that country's economy, it was always a question mark as to how long Convergys wold be able run at current levels.

This week, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that the Cincinnati-based Convergys may look to break up the company this year:

"Spinning off the company’s struggling information management unit has been on the table for several months, but in January, CEO David Dougherty said the economic slowdown and turmoil in financial markets made it unlikely the company would split off the unit in the near-term," the newspaper reported.

"But it will be on agenda for management and the board this year as the Cincinnati-based company looks for ways to boost the value of its share, Dougherty said at its annual shareholder meeting today.

"Convergys is also struggling with a recession-related drop in call volume at its call centers, said Chairman Philip Odeen."


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