Virgin Media Hits Back At CWU Over Call Centre Closure

The CWU has labelled Virgin Media’s winding down of a call centre as a ‘disaster’ for Trowbridge in Wiltshire

Virgin Media is to wind down a call centre in the Wiltshire town of Trowbridge, with the loss of 500 jobs in that area.

The decision has been labelled by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) as a “disaster” for Trowbridge.

“Today we have announced our plans for the final stages of the integration of Virgin Mobile into Virgin Media,” said Virgin Media.

Winding Down

“As a result of these changes we will be exiting our Trowbridge office in a series of planned phases over the next 18 months, with a proposed site closure in December 2012,” the company said.

“There are around 450 people affected by this announcement, all of whom will be offered the option to relocate or redeploy to roles within the UK,” said Virgin Media.

“We know this may be a difficult message for our staff so we are committed to communicating as early and openly as possible with all affected employees. With a long lead-time for changes, we will be working closely with all teams throughout the upcoming consultation period to help our staff best manage any decisions about their futures,” it added.

According to reports, 350 positions are being moved to Virgin’s call centre at Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester.

Another 100 will be offered jobs elsewhere at the Virgin.

Union Anger

But the decision to wind down the call centre has provoked the ire of the CWU, especially as Vodafone recently closed its Trowbridge call centre with the loss of 200 jobs.

“This is a disaster for Virgin Media staff at Trowbridge and for the whole area,” said Andy Kerr, CWU deputy general secretary. “Coming on the back of the Vodafone decision to pull out of Trowbridge, the local economy will be hit hard by this redundancy double whammy.”

“We’re asking Virgin Media to make redeployment and relocation packages a realistic option for staff who may be interested, not a token tick box exercise,” Kerr added. “The sad fact is that there will not be an option to stay in Trowbridge and work for Virgin Media as other sites are not within commuting distance and relocation remains an unrealistic option for the majority of staff.”

“The closure will be phased over 18 months, but this is no consolation for staff, many of whom have long service for the company, who ultimately face losing their job,” he added.


But Virgin Media has hit back at the union claims and stressed that it is not cutting jobs, but is simply moving them.

“The big picture is that this isn’t about the closing of the Trowbridge call centre, but rather it is a consequence of the integration of Virgin Mobile into Virgn Media. This is a gradual process that will not be completed until December 2012,” a Virgin Media spokesman told eWEEK Europe UK.

“There is a lot of work for us to do regarding those affects, but this is not Virgin Media scaling back. It is a ‘shift-and-lift’ move,” said the spokesman.

Virgin Media did admit that it will have an impact on the Trowbridge area and the people living there, but stressed it is not about job losses. “From our perspective we are not cutting any jobs, instead we are transferring positions, and there is a long lead-time.”

The spokesman insisted that Virgin Media would be working closely with the people there during the upcoming consultation period to help staff with their decisions about whether to accept redundancy or move to the Manchester call centre.

The Trowbridge news comes as chief rival BT Openreach announced that it is recruiting 200 former armed forces personnel to help it with the labour intensive fibre rollout.

Virgin Media is one of the ISPs currently protesting at the prices BT is charging for access to its ducting and telegraph poles.