14/05/2008 - 22:00

Call centre jobs go offshore

14/05/2008 - 22:00

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THE Perth operations office of telecommunications provider SOUL Communications, formerly B Digital, is understood to be closing down its local call centre following its parent’s merger with a company that has offshore customer support operations.

Call centre jobs go offshore

THE Perth operations office of telecommunications provider SOUL Communications, formerly B Digital, is understood to be closing down its local call centre following its parent's merger with a company that has offshore customer support operations.

WA Business News understands the recent $230 million merger of SOUL's holding company, SP Telemedia Ltd, with internet service provider TPG Group was the trigger for the decision to close down the Perth centre.

The call centre was based at the iconic 1 Adelaide Terrace building, formerly home to Woodside.

SOUL occupies three floors and, at its peak, employed about 430 staff serving the entire country from the Perth centre.

WA Business News understands only about a dozen employees remain.

In February this year, SP outlined merger synergies in a shareholders presentation and said there was potential to migrate some of the Australian-based SOUL activities to TPG's call centre operation, Orchid Cybertech Services Inc, in the Philippines.

SOUL's origins stem from Perth business B Digital, a company founded with the backing of Kerry Stokes, which then merged with DigiPlus Pty Ltd in 2004 before it was bought by SP in 2005.

Former general manager Steve Mitchinson, who left SOUL a year ago after joining in 2000, said it was disappointing to see a successful Perth business disappear.

"About two years ago, SOUL ran a series of ads saying 'we'd rather be near the sea than overseas'...big fanfare and even communicating to all the customers the fact that they would always stay in Australia," Mr Mitchinson said.

"To me it's a bit hypocritical for them to now offshore their business.

"B Digital in Perth was also a registered training provider, so they actually trained a lot of staff and it was one of the most successful employers of trainees in Perth, so that's the other disappointing thing." A former employee at SOUL said that, after months of rumours about the move, staff were formally made aware of SP's merger intentions when it was announced on the stock market in February.

"I suppose for the last six months they never replaced any exiting staff...

and we were probably down by about 35 to 40 per cent of the contact centre staff that we needed," he said.

Calls to interview combined group executive chairman David Teoh were not returned.

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