N.S. Convergys closes as rebate expires

The Convergys Call Centre in Cornwallis, N.S., is shutting down just as a $3.7-million provincial government payroll rebate expires.

The Convergys Call Centre in Cornwallis, N.S., is shutting down just as a $3.7-million provincial government payroll rebate expires.

The company said closure of the centre, which opened in 2004, is part of a move to increase efficiencies and reduce costs.

Economic Development Minister Percy Paris said the government can't stop call centres from pulling out of the province.

"There's nothing we can do because the marketing has changed," he said Thursday. "It's a global market now."

In September, Convergys closed a call centre on the Millbrook First Nations reserve, near Truro, because a client pulled its business from that particular site. That put 200 people out of work.

Convergys remains a major employer in the province with more than 1,300 Nova Scotians working at its two other call centres in New Glasgow and Dartmouth.

A Nova Scotia Business Inc. spokesman said the payroll rebate for the Convergys Call Centre in  New Glasgow expires next September.

Reg Ritchie, warden of Annapolis County, said the closure of the area's largest employer is going to hurt.

"They only seem to stay long enough, and after that money's gone, they go with it," he said.

"There's not much left other than fisheries and forestry and, of course, the small businesses are all going to be impacted by this."

Jody Holmes, who owns Jody's Gourmet Pizzas in Clementsport, said most of her customers work at the call centre.

"Everybody in the area pretty much works there or has somebody they know that works there," she said.

Crystal Gregory is one of the nearly 300 employees who will lose their jobs in March.

"It's going to be hard because it's a lot of employees in a small area looking for a job at the same time," she said.

Employees are being offered to relocate to the Convergys centres in Dartmouth and New Glasgow.