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Special government support offered to call centre workers who lost their jobs
HALIFAX -- The Nova Scotia government has rolled out a list of programs and services to help the almost 700 ServiCom call centre workers who lost their jobs last week in Cape Breton.
The Labour Department issued a statement Tuesday saying the former employees in Sydney are eligible for a six-week training program that will build their skills while they search for work.
The workers did not receive advance notice of the facility's closure last Thursday, and they are owed almost four weeks in back pay.
The government says the Employment Skills and Job Search Program, which starts next Monday, will provide financial support during the training period.
The program covers a number of topics, including networking, conflict resolution, first aid, computer and communication skills, and stress management.
As well, the department says the workers can apply to receive $200 through a rebate program to help them cover their home heating costs.
"This is a targeted, short-term support given the unique circumstances of the ServiCom closure," the department said in a statement.
On Monday, more than 400 ServiCom workers attended an information session in Sydney that included speculation suggesting an unnamed Iowa-based businessman is waiting in the wings to buy the call centre and reopen it early in the New Year.
Cecil Clarke, mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, and Nova Scotia Business Minister Geoff MacLellan have both said the businessman is keen to buy the profitable call centre.
Todd Riley, the call centre's former director, has said the deal won't go ahead until a judge in Connecticut makes some key decisions in bankruptcy proceedings involving ServiCom's U.S. parent, JNET Communications LLC.
The New Jersey-based company filed for protection from its creditors on Oct. 19.
Riley had said the judge was expected to take part in a hearing Tuesday with JNET, its creditors and the businessman.
However, Riley could not be reached for comment by late Tuesday.
JNET's lawyers and the Office of the U.S. Trustee were also unavailable.
A spokesman for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New Haven, Conn., said it appeared that a hearing for the JNET case was scheduled for Wednesday.
ServiCom provided customer support to major firms, such as OnStar Corp., a subsidiary of General Motors, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, AT&T Inc. and Allstate Insurance company.