South East Wales

Tesco Cardiff staff 'upset and angry' at 1,100 jobs threat

Tesco's customer engagement centre in Cardiff
Image caption The call centre is based in the Heath area of Cardiff

Workers facing redundancy at a Tesco call centre in Cardiff have spoken of their shock, upset and anger at the move to close it.

Up to 1,100 posts could go if the supermarket giant consolidates its customer engagement centres (CEC) at a single site in Dundee.

Staff said there had been rumours of a downscale in recent months but no one foresaw a full closure.

Workers said they had been left in limbo until a final decision is made.

Hannah Wallis, 25, who works on the centre's social media team, found out via email after completing a nightshift.

She said: "If I'm really honest, I sat there crying. I do enjoy my job so it was a bit of a shock.

"I know a lot of people were under the impression we would be downgrading to a smaller building somewhere.

"I have spoken to a few colleagues on my team, people have been quite upset. I think a few people are looking for new jobs now but we are not sure what's going to happen.

"I'm going to wait and see what happens but I've started looking."

Image caption Tesco has had a customer service operation in the city for the past 11 years

Miss Wallis, who is part of a 90-member team who reply to customers' Facebook and Twitter queries, said the centre was a really enjoyable place to work.

"The atmosphere was really good, everybody gets on, we're in teams of eight or nine people and we are really close-knit," she said.

"I would miss a lot of my colleagues [if it closed]."

Shop steward Alun Sharpe, who has worked at the site for eight years, said workers had suspected changes were to come, but they had been led to believe they were moving to a new site.

He said: "I think, in all honesty, it was a complete lack of transparency by Tesco and the management team that actually work here.

"We did suspect something, whether it was going to be on this scale, we weren't sure.

"We did think we were going to relocate, that was the indication they [management] were feeding us.

"The lease was going to be up in 2020, we were told 'not to worry, 2020 is a few years away yet, everything will be sorted'. So actually closing the site in February next year was a shock.

"There's a couple of questions we need to ask Tesco over the coming weeks or coming months."

Image caption Jobs at the site include people who respond to social media and lost property queries

However, one worker, who did not want to be named but has worked for Tesco since leaving university 14 years ago, said those questions were not being answered by the team who had been sent to Cardiff to announce the redundancies.

He said staff were called into a meeting on Wednesday and told the call centre was closing - with a provisional date given of February 2018.

"When the announcement was made yesterday we all just felt shock as we had no idea this was coming," he said.

"But today there's a lot of worry and anger. We were just given a handbook which has a lot of numbers in it about redundancy but a lot of us don't know what it means.

"We want to speak to someone about it but the team who came here seem to have gone into hiding. And when they have been in the office, they just seem to be laughing. It's like the company don't really care about us.

"To be honest I've found out more from reading articles and watching the news."

'Totally gobsmacked'

Another worker, who also did not want to be named, said members of the lost property team he works on were told a few weeks ago that their roles would be outsourced to an external firm in Bury.

He said they had been told roles including customer service inquiries would be moved there and form part of the 1,100 set to go from Cardiff.

But he said a full-scale closure was very unexpected: "I was totally gobsmacked.

"There's a lot of people quite upset, which is understandable. A lot of people went home yesterday and the calls were diverted to Dundee but everything was supposed to be back to normal today.

"I don't think there will be a good atmosphere there for a while.

"It's a really, really nice building to work in. It's very friendly, the staff are fantastic.

"But yesterday nobody wanted to know. Everybody is just disheartened, nobody wanted to go into work."

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