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Call centre workers will receive full cash payout
HUNDREDS of North-East call centre workers who are being axed by insurance company Churchill will receive the full cash payouts they are due, it emerged last night.
Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North, had earlier raised concerns in the House of Commons after hearing from staff based at the insurance firm’s offices on Teesdale Park, Thornaby , near Stockton, how recent changes to their contracts meant they could lose thousands of pounds in redundancy payments.
Mr Cunningham asked new Leader of the House, Andrew Lansley, for a debate and whether Vince Cable, the Business Secretary planned to make a statement on the matter.
His questions followed the shock announcement on Wednesday by the insurance firm, which is part of the Direct Line Group, a subsidiary of the state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), that it was cutting 890 jobs nationally – 500 of them at its offices in Teesside .
Mr Cunningham told the Commons: “I’m told these new contracts mean that their redundancy payments will be considerably less than under the old one.
Many could lose thousands of pounds as well as their jobs.
“I am sure that the Leader of the House will agree that such action is abhorrent and the managers must be held to account.
“I don’t believe for one minute that Direct Line didn’t know their employees’ jobs were soon to go when they were persuading them to sign new contracts.
“I’m told the man delivering the bad news yesterday actually admitted he knew several weeks ago they were all to be sacked – and that must have been around the same time as the new contracts were coming into effect.”
Stockton South MP James Wharton had earlier raised his concerns about the job cuts with Mr Cable.
However, following a series of meetings throughout the day, bosses at the company last night reassured the workers that the terms of their old contracts would be honoured.
A Direct Line Group spokesman told The Northern Echo: “We are in consultation with affected employees, but our proposal would ensure that all impacted staff will receive the same amount of money as they would have done under their previous RBS contract.”
The announcement is expected to offer some comfort to workers who were left reeling after hearing that the centre would be closed next June as part of plans to make £100m of savings.