Shuttered N.S. call centre employees may keep jobs after 'Christmas miracle'
CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from Todd Battis
Published Wednesday, December 19, 2018 10:06PM EST
When employees at a Cape Breton, N.S., call centre learned just two weeks ago that their employer was bankrupt, it seemed like Christmas was ruined.
Hundreds of ServiCom Canada employees lost their jobs and went unpaid for a month. They lined up at the Salvation Army for turkeys and other donated meals.
But then a joyous twist of fate: the shuttered company was bought by an Iowa businessman for $1.5 million on Tuesday in a deal that will likely save hundreds of jobs -- just in time for the holidays.
“It’s like a Christmas miracle and we’ve all been waiting for it,” said former ServiCom employee Cathy Harris. “We couldn’t be happier today.”
The call centre in Sydney, N.S., was abruptly closed Dec. 6 after JNET Communications (the parent company of ServiCom) filed for bankruptcy protection. Nearly 700 people lost their jobs right away. But the call centre could reopen less than a month after it closed -- as early as Jan. 2, 2019, according to new owner Marlowe Companies Inc.
“Everybody has been going through a little bit of a rough time for the last little while, especially trying to hold on and keep all the bills and everything going,” said former ServiCom employee Crystal Waye. “It's just fantastic that we've got hope and work in the future.”
While many are celebrating the news, others expressed frustration with the industry and a desire to get their unpaid wages. Most workers are owed about a month of back pay. ServiCom is responsible for covering those wages, but new owner Antony Marlowe, said it’s unlikely the bankruptcy proceedings will produce money for the workers. His company, which will be renamed The Sydney Call Centre Inc., will offer sign-on and retention bonuses.
Todd Riley, the former manager who broke the bad news to ServiCom staff earlier this month, is understandably optimistic.
“I anticipate to have everyone back that was on the payroll and I think the other piece of this too is we're looking to grow,” he said. “They should be proud that someone bid this much for their talent,” he added of the $1.5 million deal.
With files from the Canadian Press