Charlottetown call centre may soon lay off employees

Teresa Wright
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HGS, formerly On-Line Support, has notified employees they may lose their jobs in April if another major client is not found

HGS Canada, formerly On-Line Support, has a location at 82 Hillstrom Avenue, Charlottetown.

Employees at a major call centre in Charlottetown might soon be out of a job.

HGS Canada, located in the West Royalty industrial park, presented a letter to its employees in Charlottetown late last week with some bad news.

The Guardian has obtained a copy of this letter, dated Feb. 20, 2014.

It says the call centre’s services with its client – believed to be the technology giant Apple – will come to and end on April 14.

“All efforts are being made to replace this business, however if HGS is unsuccessful in securing replacement business you are hereby notified that your employment contract with HGS Canada will end on April 14, 2014,” stated the letter, signed by human resources vice-president Kathy Follett-Lloyd.

When reached for comment by telephone, Follett-Lloyd said she could not provide any details.

“I’m not at liberty to share anything about the situation in Charlottetown right now, unfortunately,” she said.

A source told The Guardian employees were called into an office in small groups where they were given the bad news and presented with the Feb. 20 letter.

Staffers were also told they were expressly forbidden to speak with anyone about the company’s situation.

The letter from Follett-Lloyd even points to a section in the contract employees sign with HGS, in which they agree not to use confidential company information.

Employees were offered the opportunity to transfer to an alternate location. The company’s Facebook page is advertising 50 positions available at its Timmins, Ontario office.

If HGS does not find a replacement client, and if employees in Charlottetown do not wish to transfer, their final pay will be issued on April 25, the letter states.

Over 100 P.E.I. employees are likely to be affected by these potential layoffs.

The HGS call centre was formerly On-Line Support before being acquired by HGS Canada in 2011.

Organizations: HGS Canada, Apple, The Guardian

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Canada, West Royalty Timmins Ontario

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Recent comments

  • Local Supporter
    March 07, 2014 - 14:19

    I heard Atelka is hiring at same or similar wages, that company has been around for 10 years according to their site and the center in Charlottetown has been opened for more than 15 years. Rumour has it they've got new business coming in as well and that the management team is working hard to make it a nice place to work.

  • Paul
    March 03, 2014 - 09:36

    Server Sitters is hiring. Not nearly this many employees but we would be happy to help some with job placement in the local area.

  • PEI taxpayer
    March 02, 2014 - 15:18

    there is no money going to that company from my taxes. They have a budget that is funded by HGS/Clients and there is no definite reason why they changed their clients. I think it is the business model. If it is apple that they do, then that company has a HUGS market in canada and they are not able to sustain a workforce on PEI. It's cheap labor, but also not many qualify to fix the problems people have to call in for. It's not because it's another company and they want government money. It's because the companies that come to the east coast want something they can't get so they leave

  • PEI taxpayer
    March 02, 2014 - 15:18

    there is no money going to that company from my taxes. They have a budget that is funded by HGS/Clients and there is no definite reason why they changed their clients. I think it is the business model. If it is apple that they do, then that company has a HUGS market in canada and they are not able to sustain a workforce on PEI. It's cheap labor, but also not many qualify to fix the problems people have to call in for. It's not because it's another company and they want government money. It's because the companies that come to the east coast want something they can't get so they leave

  • Employee
    March 01, 2014 - 13:15

    An an employee, I was hoping to get more emotional support from the community rather than changing this into politics. Not one comment has supported the employees. This has nothing to do with politics. This company pays for all of its training - not the tax payers. Just wish us your support during a difficult time.

  • Eastcoaster
    March 01, 2014 - 00:17

    If anyone commenting ever worked in a contact center then you would realize that business plans for both sides can change at a moments notice. This is purely just the industry, it has nothing to do with being purchased by an 'India based' company or government funding. Do your research before commenting on something. This story is about the people in that building and the community being there and having hope that the company is able to 'secure replacement business'....so that these people can keep their jobs!

  • Blame Apple
    February 28, 2014 - 12:03

    It would be hard to blame HGS for this. From what I have heard, this is a result of demands from Apple that HGS could not fulfill in Canada. I believe they demanded 700 full time employees per call centre. HGS struggled to maintain the 100+ positions they had. This is not a result of "government money". This is how business works these days, ship all the jobs overseas where slave labor (practically) is legal.

  • Nor'easter
    February 28, 2014 - 11:35

    Also, there is no government money involved and there never was. Get your facts straight

    • Regular Joe
      Regular Joe
      February 28, 2014 - 17:59

      @ Nor"easter : Really no Government funding you say . Who do you thing pays the lions share of the training costs for these sites . The site in Montague goes through at minimum 30+ trainees a month . Now that in it's self should raise warning flags as to what sort of a company it is to work for .

    • To Regular Joe
      March 01, 2014 - 08:53

      To Regular Joe? Have you ever worked in a call centre? EVERY call centre on PEI has the same issue with staff when it comes to training, HGS has it, Atelka has it as well as Advantage .. people use it to their advantage that they don't have a set period they have to stay, as horrible as it is.. HGS owns the building, there is not one penny put into the building or the company from the Government.. You know nothing everyone commenting knows nothing.

  • Nor'easter
    February 28, 2014 - 11:33

    Those commenting have no idea of the situation. It has NOTHING to do with being purchased by an international company. OLS has grown through out Canada since being purchased. This was on the clients end. Not OLS's end.

  • TM
    February 28, 2014 - 09:56

    When this company was Online Support Inc since the mid 90s and locally owned, it did quite well; no layoffs to my recollection. How ironic now that it is owned by HGS (India based), Apple is not renewing its contract. I worked at OLS up til 2007 and it was always known as one of the better call centres on the Island.

    • Former Employee
      February 28, 2014 - 12:54

      I was a former employee of this company when it was OLS, I, along with quite a few others were laid off in 2004.

  • David Clarke
    February 28, 2014 - 08:29

    Absolutely Right...Yolanda.... This Happens A lot Here..... Also It Seems Like Every Friday We Get Massive Layoffs on The Island....Last Week Cavendish Farms. Just Wonder The Future of This Island.

    • Andrew
      February 28, 2014 - 10:49

      Off topic, but I have to ask. Why are you capitalizing every word, David Clarke?!

  • MFH
    February 28, 2014 - 08:27

    Must have run out of government money. I wonder how long before we see another announcement giving them more money.

  • Thanks For The Fish
    February 28, 2014 - 08:00

    Wash, rinse, repeat.

  • ISLANDER
    February 28, 2014 - 07:15

    And Charlottetown is suppose to be where all the jobs are easy to get according to the new EI that Gail Shea just announced last week I guess everyone will have to move up to Egmont Bay .

  • Wade
    February 28, 2014 - 06:57

    I seen this coming the day the company was sold to hinduja global solutions of India. It was only when not if they would kill of OLS.

  • yolanda
    February 28, 2014 - 06:13

    so, it is time for this company to re-incarnate itself, with a new name, and run to the taxpayers for wage subsidies and promises of creating 100 "new" jobs, --- is that not how it is done? - around and around the Merry go round, with these types of firms, and politicians love to see their pictures in the paper throwing our money at these uncertain outfits. Did they get help from Ontario taxpayers for the jobs being advertised in Timmons?taxpayers

    • Troubled Taxpayer
      February 28, 2014 - 08:50

      You got it, yolanda...And while we're on the subject of creating jobs (yeah, right), whatever became of those 300 jobs that Mphasis/Wyde Consulting was supposed to bring to Charlottetown? Remember when Ghiz/Wes/Roach were all patting themselves on the back after spending a nice vacation in India and having "secured" a promise of Mphasis coming here with high-paying IT jobs? I also remember Ghiz telling Holland College that they should be providing more IT training in anticipation of the flood of IT jobs that would wash over the Province thanks to Mphasis! From what I hear, Mphasis/Wyde Consulting has about a dozen employees in the ATC, most of whom are from India and only three who were hired locally! This outfit is getting all kinds of money thrown at it from the Province and is giving NOTHING back...ENOUGH, I say!