Austin Macauley 26 August 2015

Council leader demands Capita meeting after jobs U-turn

Bury Council’s leader has hit out at Capita’s plans to axe 350 jobs at its site in the town, warning the move will have ‘a devastating effect on the local economy’.

The firm is withdrawing the O2 contract from its Bury operation despite giving assurances that jobs would be protected back in 2013.

Council leader Mike Connolly is now demanding a meeting with the company’s bosses to discuss the move.

‘In June 2013, both I and Ivan Lewis MP met Capita bosses in Westminster to seek urgent reassurances about issues that arose when O2 outsourced call centre jobs as part of a 10-year extension of its relationship with Capita,’ he said.

‘One of those issues was the long-term future of the Bury site following a report in a national newspaper that Capita had drawn up documents to shut the Bury call centre and another in Glasgow within three years.

‘We were given very clear assurances by Capita that these reports were inaccurate and that Capita were committed to safeguarding the future of the Bury workforce.’

He said he was ‘appalled to hear that we were clearly misled’ and that around 350 jobs would go in October 2015.

Cllr Connolly added: ‘The loss of these jobs, the majority of which are filled by Bury residents, will have a devastating effect on the borough. It will worsen job prospects for our residents, take £4m a year out of the local economy and undoubtedly lead to an increase in demand for hard-pressed public services.

‘My understanding is that there has been little or no reduction in call volumes, and that Capita are already having to take contingency action, even with current staffing levels, to maintain service standards.’

A Capita spokesperson said: 'A core focus of the Capita O2 partnership is to transform the service and as such we are responding to O2 customers’ increasing need to interact over digital channels, rather than traditional customer service telephone channels.

'There are no plans to close the Bury site, which is used to administer other contracts. However, the vast majority of staff working on the O2 contract in Bury have applied for voluntary redundancy and we are working closely with them to accommodate their preferred leave date. We are running a series of recruitment events, local employer workshops, careers clinics, CV writing and interview classes. Those staff that have not opted for voluntary redundancy will be given the opportunity to transfer.'

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