Hampshire & Isle of Wight

British Gas cuts 550 jobs at Southampton call centre

British Gas is to close its Southampton office with the loss of up to 550 jobs.

A statement from the company said the closure of the St Mary's Road call centre was to "reduce our costs".

The Unison trade union said the the closure was "a blow for staff and the local economy".

Unison's Mike Jeram said: "We will rigorously examine the company's business case with a view to defending our members' jobs and avoiding compulsory redundancies."

He added: "Members will need significant assistance from the company given the dire state of the economy if this plan goes ahead."

'Need fewer people'

The Southampton call centre has been operating for about 20 years.

British Gas said 50 customer services roles currently based at Southampton may transfer to a site at nearby Chandlers Ford.

British Gas' director of energy Ian Peters said the decision to shut the operation - one of five call centres in the UK - was due to fewer customers using telephone services.

"One in three customers now deal with us online, self service transactions are doubling each year and with smart meters and the like, that regrettably will translate into us needing fewer people in our call centres."

He said the lease on the Southampton property coming to an end was an additional factor.

"In the current climate we simply cannot afford to take out a new lease and equip a new building," he added.

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