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Dell closure sends workers packing

Temporary foreign workers laid off in the imminent closure of the Dellcall centre are being forced to leave Canada, city council’s executivecommittee heard yesterday.

Temporary foreign workers laid off in the imminent closure of the Dell call centre are being forced to leave Canada, city council’s executive committee heard yesterday.
Puneet Puneet said he arrived as an IT specialist from India eight months ago on a Dell-issued visa. But now that Dell is closing its centre, he’s been laid off and given a one-month severance package.
The 28-year-old wants to stay in Edmonton, but restrictions on the temporary foreign worker visa are preventing him from finding another job , he told city councillors.
“I thought I had a great opportunity here,” he said, “But my opportunity seems to be fading away.”
Unless he can find a company willing to fill out the extensive paperwork needed to keep him here, he said, he’ll be forced to return to India on his father’s offer to buy him a plane ticket home.
The Dell call centre, which once employed 900 people, is expected to close by the end of May. Puneet is one of nearly a dozen foreign workers laid off by its closure.
The Edmonton Economic Development Corporation convinced Dell to locate in the city several years ago by offering land on a $1-a-year lease, on top of tax concessions.
EEDC President Ron Gilbertson told councillors that he’s not a fan of temporary worker visas, but companies use them because of the massive labour shortage.
Restricting companies from using them will also make Edmonton a less-attractive place to do business, he said.
Dell intends to sell the building, located near the city’s south side research park, and has already attracted a handful of offers.
Coun. Amarjeet Sohi said the Dell closure should serve as a warning for how the city should strike such land deals with companies in the future.
But Coun. Ron Hayter suggested that it was a good deal at the time, when the city wasn’t in the middle of an economic boom and needed to attract a big company to relocate.
-steve.lillebuen@metronews.ca

 
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