HGS in Montague closing, 65 people to lose jobs

Steve Sharratt
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Pink slips confirm pending March 4 closure

MONTAGUE — It was devasting news for Montague Mayor Richard Collins.

Collins received a call from a company spokesman Tuesday apologizing for the pending closure of the HGS Canada call centre in his eastern P.E.I. town.

The move will throw 65 people out of work.

The employees were handed pink slips Tuesday and notified the Brook Street operation will close March 4.

“It’s a shock to the system, so unexpected,” said Collins.

“I’m feeling bad for those who will be without work in difficult times right now at this time of the year.”

A spokesperson for the global operation said every effort will be made to help each individual find comparable employment at another HGS Canada location or within the community.

“The limited labour market size has not allowed us to produce the scale that the business requires to be sustainable,” said Joanne Morrison of HGS North America. “This critical fact, multiplied by the challenges in the Canadian economic climate, has made this decision necessary.”

Employees arriving for the Tuesday morning shift at the centre declined to respond to questions about the future of the operation as they quickly moved inside from the cold winds.

The call centre had grown substantially over the past number of years and even announced an expansion of 30 more jobs last July, which pushed levels to 120 workers. However, a former manager, now working elsewhere and asking not to be identified, said maintaining a full complement of staff was difficult.

“(HGS) likes to have centres with a strong employment level, and we just couldn’t compete at our little site,’’ she said. “You could see what was happening last fall.”

The former manager said the closure is unfortunate since the Montague centre has earned top performance awards out of all the sites in Canada.

“It’s a job that people have to work hard at being nice to customers that are not so nice, and agents are expected to work year round with little missed time. That’s not an easy task for some people.”

The former employee said the employment ranks, once a bustling 150, had dwindled to only about 50 agents now with about 15 support staff. The call centre, originally set up by On-Line Support, opened in 2002 and has a banner outside the front door noting wages of $12.50 an hour.

Collins said company representatives felt bad about the closure and want to make sure people find other jobs.

“But they said there just weren’t enough agents.”

ssharratt@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianSteve

Organizations: Virgin Mobile, Hinduja Group

Geographic location: Brook Street, India

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  • Josh
    January 15, 2016 - 08:52

    I feel for these people and hope other opportunities happen soon for them. That being said, I worked in call centres years ago and they were some of the most regimented, stress inducing environments I ever worked in. Low pay for high responsibility, constant monitoring by the client, quality dept. and the main offices of the call centre itself could be happening on any of your calls at the same time so if you even deviate one word from your script or don't have the proper knowledge base open, you would be docked and your metrics could be affected which could mean demotion to a backshift or termination. Also, just when you got comfortable with a contract and could handle any situation without any effort, it would close up and bam, you're back in the training room on another contract which could have a different hourly rate and in most cases, lower than the contract you were previously in. Not saying this was the case with this particular centre but I can see why they'd have a problem recruiting agents. Just my opinion but I'd rather work backshift at Tims than work in another call centre.

  • No Big Sweat
    January 13, 2016 - 09:05

    If the truth be known , most likely the government paying most of the wages has run out . I'm sure before the doors close for good that Roach will come up with more of my money to pay these overseas owners to keep operating . Time will tell but that is my guess

  • Billy
    January 13, 2016 - 08:39

    How much tax dollars was lost on this one??

  • Pat McGowan
    January 13, 2016 - 08:31

    Sad news for Montague and area.HGS was a good employer and paid fair wages.Not everyone can work in a fish plant,so that may not be an option.Hope there will be better news !

  • Observer
    January 13, 2016 - 08:27

    "...agents are expected to work year round with little missed time. That’s not an easy task for some people.” What exactly does that mean??? If "some people" won't show up for work, replace them with people who do want to work. Don't shut down a whole business over "some people". I suspect there is a lot more to this story than what is reported. And I feel so badly for those who work hard and try to be good employees.

  • Shawn Stevenson
    January 12, 2016 - 23:15

    Well, Firstly I feel bad for the employees. My heart goes out to the workers there, I even know a personal few and it's truly sad at this time of sadness times two because you see it not only from a newsarticle, or, past life event of being laid of from a prior job of your own, but, when you see, read, and hear about it through people one would know that work for the company it gives a person a second outlook on it. Truly is sad. HGS should have from the very, very, first set up a call center 1/10th the size in Montague and 110% should have left the Charlottetown location opened. Who knows, With that idea above with the 1/10th the size down there and with modifcations, wise ones, made by the company in CHarlottetown like down-sizing, Perhaps very much so, The company wouldn't be at it's lifes end(meaning dying, their closure of the business at hand). -- Terribly sad, If call centers like Atelka and Advantage can keep operational, It's ONLY LOGICAL to believe they, As in the upper level the senior and current management of HGS could have made prior sacrafices to not be in the current position they are in. SECONDLY, IF THE CALL CENTER VISION RESEARCH WHICH IS IMPOSSIBLE TO LIVE OFF OF WITH 3 HOUR SHIFTS, CALLING A SHIFT UPDATE LINE EVERYDAY 902 569 7333 TO KNOW IF YOU ARE IN THE LUCKY LIST OF PEOPLE SELECTED TO WORK, GENERALLY A 3 HOUR SHIFT. A COMPANY THATS PAID TO DO OPINION RESEARCH VIA PER COMPANY SURVEY/CONTRACT WORK IS JUST AN OBLIVIOUS EXAMPLE OF HOW HGS COULD STILL BE OPERATIONAL NOT ONLY DOWN IN MONTAGUE BUT HERE IN CHARLOTTETOWN AS WELL. I rest my case with my opinion, Thank you, Mr. Stevenson

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    January 12, 2016 - 11:37

    It a very sad thing to see them go with the loss of the jobs. I pray for the people being affected. Globalism sucks.