Iron Mountain

Iron Mountain has announced it will gradually close its call centre in Saint John in 2014.

Iron Mountain Inc. has announced it will shut down its Saint John call centre with a phased-in approach beginning in February and ending in December.

The company said the closure will affect 200 jobs at the storage and information management system.

But industry leaders say other jobs will soon be opening up in the area.

Iron Mountain spokesperson Daniel O'Neill said the company will continue to service clients in New Brunswick and employ people in Saint John and New Brunswick. However, no specifics were given.

'It's never easy to make decisions that affect the jobs of our colleagues, but we believe this change is necessary for the long-term success of our business.'- Iron Mountain spokesperson Daniel O'Neill

Employees were given the news of the call centre closure on Tuesday.

"We're making changes across our organization to support our growth plans and thrive in a competitive global marketplace," said Harold Ebbighausen, president of Iron Mountain, North America in a statement.

"It's never easy to make decisions that affect the jobs of our colleagues, but we believe this change is necessary for the long-term success of our business."

The company said the gradual shutdown is being done to help ease the transition for affected employees.

The company said it will provide severance pay, benefits continuation, re-employment services, employee assistance programs, and work with local government to offer additional work-placement services to those affected.

Several Iron Mountain employees who were approached by CBC News on Wednesday declined to comment. They said they had been instructed not to speak to the media.

But some of them said they had gone to work for Iron Mountain after other call centre jobs were cancelled on them.

Other 'opportunities' on the way

Labour leaders say the announcement comes as a big blow.

"Every job counts in this province. And with the unemployment rate we have in this province, those 200 jobs are very, very important to those people who work there, of course, but also to the local economy," said Patrick Colford, president of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour.

But Rob Campbell, president of ContactNB, who was one of several call centre leaders gathered in Moncton on Wednesday to celebrate the industry's 20-year anniversary in the province, says more jobs are on the horizon.

"Ironically, just a couple of weeks ago, a couple of centres indicated that they are actually going to be hiring in the Saint John area," Campbell told CBC News.

"And actually more people are going to be hired than we're losing. So really, those great people will have opportunities," he said.

The call centre industry currently accounts for as many as 18,000 jobs in the province, said Campbell.

The industry grew 13 per cent in New Brunswick between 2009 and 2011 and is now holding steady, he said.

In 2003, the New Brunswick government announced a $245,000 forgivable loan to Iron Mountain to expand its Saint John call centre by up to 70 new positions. However, Business New Brunswick records show the company never took any of that available money.

Iron Mountain Inc., which was founded in 1951, and set up shop in Saint John 12 years ago, provides storage and information management services, with a real estate network of more than 64 million sq. ft. in more than 1,000 facilities in 36 countries.

The company's name comes from an abandoned mine in New York where it first stored documents.