South East Wales

Calls to reverse 1,100 Tesco Cardiff call centre job cuts

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Media captionCall centre workers and union officials George Ross and Alun Sharpe describe the mood

Tesco is facing calls to scrap plans to close its call centre in Cardiff with the loss of 1,100 jobs.

The supermarket giant said it was consolidating its customer engagement centres (CEC) on to a single site in Dundee, creating 250 jobs.

Cardiff North MP Anna McMorrin said she would write to UK Business Secretary Greg Clark to "make interventions".

Staff have spoken of their shock, upset and anger and claim the company is not answering their questions.

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Media captionIt was "completely unacceptable" some staff heard about the job cuts via social media, Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said in response to Anna McMorrin

Economy Secretary Ken Skates said he was seeking "an urgent meeting with Tesco" to discuss options for workers and would ensure they had access to Welsh Government support.

"Tesco are in no doubt about our deep disappointment at their decision and the way they have gone about telling not only the Welsh Government but the workers," he told BBC Wales.

"We are deploying the React programme to make sure that those people who could face losing their jobs get all the support they need to get back into work.

"We are also engaging with other companies in the Cardiff City region to find opportunities for people who could be affected.

"We are already hearing from the likes of BT, British Gas and Admiral about opportunities for those workers who could be affected.

"First and foremost we are calling on Tesco to reconsider this decision. I don't understand how they can take away 1,100 jobs and then just reintroduce 250 elsewhere."

'Wholly unacceptable'

Ms McMorrin raised the issue during business questions at Parliament on Thursday, saying some staff found out via social media.

"This is shocking and wholly unacceptable behaviour and will be devastating for all those concerned and their families" she said, adding she wanted Tesco to reconsider their plans.

Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, called the announcement "completely unacceptable" and said she would also seek a response from Mr Clark.

The Usdaw union will be entering detailed talks with Tesco on Friday and believe they can make the business case for work staying in Cardiff.

Rose Bevan, Usdaw area officer for Cardiff and Vale, said it was a fantastic workplace and "like a big family".

"The news was catastrophic for everyone and they're all trying to support each other in there."

Meanwhile, Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said he had "challenged" Tesco chief executive Matt Davies over the decision.

"He's explained to me the rationale of their view," said Mr Cairns.

"I also want to know what package of support could well be on the table, in relation to shifting some jobs to Dundee.

"I want to make sure we're not being undermined by the Scottish Government in that respect."

Tesco is proposing to close the Cardiff CEC in February and a three-month consultation has started.

Cardiff Central MP Jo Stevens said: "My concern, and my suspicion is, that possibly some of the work is being outsourced.

'Difficult'

"Because Tesco already has an outsourcing arrangement in Bangalore for some of its back office functions and also some of the overflow of calls to the centre [in Cardiff] to Bangalore in peak times."

She said Wales' apparent boom in call centres in the past few years, which has seen several open especially in Swansea, Newport and Cardiff, was down to more people buying services online.

But she said staff at Tesco's Cardiff centre had a number of specialist jobs, including an "innovative" social media team, and politicians wanted to ensure they were retained in Wales.

"It's very difficult to find alternative work and the reality is Dundee is not a reasonable alternative for very many people to relocate," she said.

Sandra Busby, managing director of the Welsh Contact Centre Forum, called the decision disappointing.

But she added: "We're confident there are more than enough vacancies in the contact centre job market."

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