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Another call centre bites the dust

Last Tuesday, 300 employees at the Convergys call centre in Cornwallis received the bad news.

Last Tuesday, 300 employees at the Convergys call centre in Cornwallis received the bad news.
Their employer — in the euphemistic speak favoured by companies delivering bad news everywhere — had decided to “transition” their jobs elsewhere “to better serve its clients by increasing efficiencies and reducing costs.”

They had been fired.

The reason: A six-year government payroll rebate program that initially lured the company to set up shop in Cornwallis had run out. Convergys, whose Nova Scotia call centres have generated $15 million in taxpayer-provided rebates for the company, also closed its Truro-Millbrook centre earlier this year when its rebate deal there expired.

Convergys is not alone. Another call centre, run by TeleTech and lured to Nova Sciotia with $11.8 million under the same much-touted government scheme in 2005, shut down in Amherst earlier this month, turfing 215 more workers onto the street.

Despite that, Contact Centre Nova Scotia, an industry-promoting association, insists its industry isn’t “drying up and blowing away” and “remains viable for Nova Scotia.”


Consider: On the day before Cornwallis workers got their Convergys Christmas present, the company’s Philippines’ unit bragged it had reached its year’s target: 13 call centres and 23,000 employees.

This weekend, Convergys added to those numbers during a three-day job fair at Shakey’s Restaurant in Tacloban City. “Transitioning,” anyone?

The Philippines, in fact, is now “the call centre capital of the world,” having displaced India as the non-union, cheap-labour country of choice for runaway call centre companies.

Runaway? Though Convergys is a Cinncinati-based transnational, its tentacles reach to wherever there’s a government willing to do a deal.

On Friday, Convergys announced — “just in time for the holidays” — it is “seeking candidates for 60 full- and part-time positions” at its call centre in Logan, Utah.

More Cornwallis jobs?

More sweet subsidies?

During the last 20 years, provincial governments have pitched Nova Scotia as — in the words of former premier Rodney MacDonald — “one of the most business-friendly places in the world.”

What that generally meant was — in the interests of new job announcement photo-ops — our governments were willing to pay companies they knew wouldn’t stay to create jobs they knew wouldn’t last.

That’s no way to run a province.

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