Fredericton call centre to close, putting nearly 300 out of work
Published Wednesday, August 29, 2012 6:49PM ADT
New Brunswick’s once-vibrant call centre industry has taken a hit at the announcement of the closure of one of the province’s most stable facilities.
The Marriott call centre in Fredericton will close in February, putting nearly 300 people out of work.
Carl Harris wasn’t at work yesterday and missed the announcement.
“I’m sort of glad I wasn’t here because…a lot of crying going on and everything,” says the call centre employee.
He says that as far as call centres go, the reservation centre for Marriott Hotels in Fredericton is one of the best.
"The teamwork, the management here has been top notch and they're good to their people,” says Harris. “It's unfortunate that it's going to happen but...I worked for Avis and it happened there...it's just life."
More than 250 people will lose their jobs and a struggling North American economy is to blame. Fewer people are travelling and the majority of travelers are using the Internet to book rooms, which means call volumes are down.
Corporate officials with Marriott Hotels tell CTV News the centre in Fredericton is one of the company’s smallest offices, and is therefore easier to close.
They also say work currently being done out of Fredericton will be moved to larger call centres in Omaha and Salt Lake City.
“It was like being punched in the stomach and having the wind knocked out of me,” says Mayor Brad Woodside of learning the news.
He says it’s time to focus on job creation.
“We’ve got to stop the exodus of people from this province to Alberta and Newfoundland,” says Woodside. “We have to do something…and restore faith and optimism and hope...and people right now, in this province, are losing that."
The provincial NDP say the centre received more than $750,000 from Liberal and Conservative governments since it opened in 1999, and they are calling for an end to corporate welfare.
Woodside says he isn’t blaming the province for the closure and he doesn’t want the issue to become a political football tossed between the two political parties.
Instead, he hopes that all political parties, municipalities and academics can come together to develop a strategy that will bring jobs to the province and stem the outmigration that seems to be ramping up again.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Andy Campbell