Bell Mobility layoffs in Dorval could total 230 workers

New information is emerging about the layoffs at Bell Mobility's call centre in Dorval, including the total number of workers affected.

Call-centre workers given 30 minutes to leave the building after losing their jobs

Bell said investments in online and mobile technology have reduced the volume of calls received by its customer service centres. (Sudha Krishnan/CBC )

Bell Mobility plans to lay off around 230 workers at its call centre in Montreal's West Island, according to documents obtained by CBC News.

The company has confirmed that layoffs are underway but has refused to make public how many people will ultimately lose their jobs. 

Initial reports suggested around 100 people had been let go. But as required by law, Bell Mobility has informed the federal labour minister that 230 employees will be laid off by the end of August.

The letter was posted in the Dorval call centre, and a copy was made available to CBC News.

In an email exchange with CBC, Bell Mobility said the cuts are necessary because fewer customers are making use of the call centre.

"These changes reflect significant reductions in call volumes into our centres, the result of significant investment in new service technology such as online and mobile self serve apps ... and simplified billing," the company said. 

It added that total customer service calls dropped by 11 per cent in 2015 and by 14 per cent in the first quarter of 2016.

Former employees question company's motives

In spite of having signed confidentiality agreements, several laid-off workers from the Dorval call centre contacted CBC News to question the company's explanation for the cuts.

They said similar work is being outsourced overseas, including to the Philippines.

There is also concern work is being transferred to Nordia, an independent customer service company, where employees earn a lower hourly wage than Bell Mobility workers do in Dorval.

One woman who did not want to be identified, because her severance package includes a confidentiality agreement, said workers in Dorval had helped train employees based outside the country.

She was among those laid off on Wednesday. Workers were given 30 minutes to leave the building after being handed their notice.

"We didn't even say goodbye," she said. "It was a slap in the face."

That sentiment was repeated by several former workers who contacted CBC News.

"For them to treat employees there like that, as just numbers, because it's easier to get a cheaper wage elsewhere is really, really difficult to handle," another ex-employee said.

Bell Mobility denied any of the positions eliminated in Dorval are being transferred overseas.

"The reduced workload is being distributed across existing Canadian call centres," the company told the CBC. 

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with files from Steve Rukavina