Energy giant npower only agreed a deal to outsource work to India the day before announcing 400 redundancies, it was revealed today.
The firm announced it would close its Quayside House offices in Rounds Green Road, Oldbury, next summer.
The company also revealed yesterday that it would close its huge Fenton offices in Stoke – meaning a total of 950 jobs will go in the Midlands. In total, more than 1,460 office jobs will be cut in the UK.
Staff will begin to leave by March next year, after a 60-day consultation was launched with the affected workers. The news was broken to them after they arrived for work yesterday.
The back-office roles performed at Quayside House will be managed by Indian company Tata Consultancy Services instead, with work moving over in phases. Lee Wilkes, the head of site for Quayside House, told the Express & Star, that the deal was finalised on Wednesday. He said the job losses were regrettable, but necessary.
“We agreed it on Wednesday. We’re bringing in proven people with proven records in getting customer satisfaction up to 80 per cent,” he said. “From a cost point of view it is helping reduce our customers bills. We need to be less expensive and improve our customer satisfaction.”
He would not reveal how much this move would save the firm – saying it was commercially-sensitive information. He added: “It’s been really regrettable. I understand why we’ve had to do it, to reduce costs. The one casualty has been the staff. We’re putting good packages in place and we’re getting big employers in to help them with moving on.
“People have been really dignified and understand why we’re having to do what we need to do. It’s an emotional time for everyone.”
All of the 250 posts at Quayside House will be cut, and around 150 staff will go from npower’s sister site Birchfield House, Joseph Street. The firm’s other Oldbury site, Birch House, is not expected to be affected.
Colin Smith, from the GMB union, added: “This is about cost of living, bad management and naked greed. At this time of the year when the Christmas lights are being turned on for most people, npower workers, their families and communities have no yuletide greetings.
“It is an absolute scandal that a company like npower can operate as a cartel player in a captive market, while jobs are placed offshore, we import energy and the npower chief executive cocks a snook by taking his annual bonus.”
The boss of npower Paul Massara dismissed the idea of giving up his £150,000 bonus amid the widespread anger over rising energy prices, saying the gesture would be a gimmick.