AN outsourcing giant which told East Lancashire call centre staff they could move to India to keep their jobs is facing a payout of at least £300,000 after a tribunal ruled they were unfairly dismissed.
Around 250 workers based at the Globe Centre in Accrington were sacked by Sitel after the company lost a major contract with holiday website Expedia, which exported the work to another operation in Bangalore.
Approximately 115 staff from across East Lancashire took Sitel to an employment tribunal following their November 2011 departures, claiming they were poorly treated and not properly informed of the shock decision.
Now a three-strong panel, headed by Employment Judge David Franey, has backed the workers after a series of hearings last November and February. Under their ruling, Sitel must pay each claimant 45 days’ wages, for failing to properly consult all the workforce, though no compensation award has been made. Further compensation entitlements, from the successful unfair dismissal action, will be determined at a future ‘remedy’ hearing if it cannot be agreed between Sitel and staff.
In a lengthy judgement, the tribunal found that although a redundancy policy had been drafted by management in April 2011, there was no evidence it had been circulated to staff at Accrington.
Regional performance director Ian Levett took charge of the site the following month and discussions were ongoing with Expedia over whether their three-year deal with Sitel would continue beyond 2011.
But the tribunal heard that these matters were not shared with their ‘employee forum’ and staff were only informed their jobs would be lost was on August 31 that year.
Judge Franey said: “The members of the employee forum were then called into a brief meeting at which they were informed for the first time that the contract was coming to an end and that the site would close.
“This came as a great shock to them. We found that there had been no meaningful discussion of what would happen.”
Former workers who consider they should receive compensation must inform the tribunal offices before June 30.