Nova Scotia

'Huge relief': Sydney call centre prepares to reopen

Workers were back on their computers inside the former ServiCom call centre in Sydney on Friday for the first time since the centre closed abruptly Dec. 6.

Former ServiCom employees back at their work stations to fill out forms

Former ServiCom employees complete applications at the Sydney Call Centre. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

Workers were back on their computers inside the former ServiCom call centre in Sydney on Friday for the first time since the centre closed abruptly Dec. 6.

The newly named Sydney Call Centre invited former employees to come in on Friday and Saturday to fill out payroll and other forms to resume their jobs when the site reopens for business in early 2019.

Todd Riley, Sydney Call Centre's vice-president, said close to 100 workers showed up in the first hour and he expected a steady flow through the day.

Todd Riley is the vice-president of the Sydney Call Centre, set to open as early as next week. (Norma Jean MacPhee/CBC)

"I think people are definitely looking forward to today and tomorrow for signing back up to the call centre," said Riley.

He said he expected up to 85 per cent of the workers would return. He said preference is being given to those employees before any outside applicants are hired.

Terrance Boutilier, a former employee, said it was a huge relief to be back at the site and filling out the necessary paperwork.

"To be honest with you, I didn't want to go look for another job. I liked the place, I was making a decent dollar. So it's great to get our jobs back," he said.

Riley acknowledged that there were hard feelings, following ServiCom's abrupt closure just three weeks before Christmas. He said the new centre offered employees a "fresh start."

"It was a tough time for all, and I just want them to know that even though things may have been said, or people may have been mad, we're willing to look over that and forgive and start from a new chapter, a new page," he said.

Riley also offered assurances that the new centre would have more stability under new owner Anthony Marlowe and MCI Canada.

"There will be a lot of investing back into the entire call centre," said Riley, adding that the centre would no longer be sending profits back to the U.S. to support other call centre operations, as was the case under former owner J-Net Communications.

Shauna Graham, director of operations, watches as Lynn Polegato fills out her online application. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

John Ardelli, a longtime employee, said the centre appeared to be "back on the right track."

He worked for ServiCom for 19 years.

After weeks of missed pays and uncertainty, he's holding out hope for a secure future under Marlowe's ownership. "He's open, he's honest, you don't feel like he's holding anything back," said Ardelli.

Riley said a number of details remain to be worked out over the coming days, including the amount of signing bonuses  and the actual start date for employees.

He said the centre could reopen as early as Tuesday.

About the Author

Wendy Martin

Reporter

Wendy Martin has been a reporter for nearly 30 years. Her first job in radio was at the age of three, on a show called Wendy's House on CFCB Radio in Corner Brook, N.L. Get in touch at wendy.martin@cbc.ca

With files from the CBC's Gary Mansfield