Nearly 700 workers at a Cape Breton call centre who haven’t received their paycheques learned on Thursday that they’re out of work.

Employees at ServiCom in Sydney, N.S., were called to a meeting Thursday and told they would be losing their jobs less than three weeks before Christmas.

Worker Lori Riles told CTV Atlantic it was smart that police were called to the building before the announcement was made.

“It probably would’ve broke out into a riot in there,” she said. “It was pretty bad.”

The call centre’s U.S. parent went bankrupt in November but the Canadian employees were told their workplace was profitable and would remain open.

Danny Currie said he and his fellow employees were “led on.”

“They were promising bonuses up until the very last minute,” he said. “I didn’t understand how they could offer bonuses when they couldn’t give us our basic paycheque.”

Manager Todd Riley said the news was tough to swallow, and he accused the call centre’s owners of cowardice.

“They lied to me,” he said. “I had to work with 700 people to go in day in and day out and keep people on the phones and encourage them that things were going to get better.”

Riley said he’s heard that there is an investor in the U.S. who has expressed interest in purchasing the business, but that no deal has been made so far.

Kayla Williams was left in tears after learning she lost her job. “I have a two year old at home. I have a mortgage. I have bills,” she said. “I’m disgusted. There’s no words.”