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West Corp closes doors--hundreds lose jobs


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#1 Holden West

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 02:58 PM

Hundreds to lose jobs at call centre

West Corporation is closing Central Saanich site, citing high costs

Omaha-based West Corp. - once lauded as a local success story with more than 1,000 employees - blames the cost of labour here and the difficulty in finding enough workers to keep going. After five years, it is moving operations to the U.S., a company spokesman said today.

Is the "cost of labour" really to blame here? Or might it be that few people were willing to drag their ass all the way out to friggin' Keating X Rd. every day?
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#2 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 03:04 PM

Huhhh...

#3 Nparker

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 03:17 PM

Is the "cost of labour" really to blame here?


Apparently the "high" cost of labour comes in at around $12/hour these days. Good riddance I say to a company that can't be bothered to pay a living wage.

#4 Mike K.

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 03:20 PM

Call centres are successful all over North America except in the city that plays second fiddle to employment concerns of our younger generations. Who needs young people hanging around, right?

I doubt it's so much the location that gave West HR troubles, but the actual labour shortage. They had to raise their wages and offer post-secondary bursaries in order to attract employees who were already targeted by companies offering $10-$12 per hour.

Apparently the "high" cost of labour comes in at around $13/hour these days. Good riddance I say to a company that can't be bothered to pay a living wage.

Hundreds of West's ex-employees must be expressing a sigh of relief now that they've freed themselves from the grip of that money-hungry tyrant, hey?

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#5 G-Man

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 03:40 PM

It also I think has a lot to do with the Canadian dollar which they have to use to pay employees and the company gets paid by its clients in the american peso.

Still I think the local economy will be able to find work for many of these people, they will just have to drop the black trench coat and dark eye make-up when they show up for the interview.

#6 Mike K.

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 04:09 PM

Good point. They were hit twice and obviously couldn't make the operation in Victoria work. Can't say they didn't try, though. Hands down they were probably the most willing out of any new firm to try every trick under the sun to attract and retain employees but ultimately too many factors were against them.

This situation is very unfortunate for Victoria.

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#7 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 04:14 PM

It also I think has a lot to do with the Canadian dollar which they have to use to pay employees and the company gets paid by its clients in the american peso.

Still I think the local economy will be able to find work for many of these people, they will just have to drop the black trench coat and dark eye make-up when they show up for the interview.


Bingo!

#8 ressen

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 05:41 PM

Maybe Van Trigt can finally get the daffodil pickers he's been looking for.

#9 m0nkyman

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 06:22 PM

Good point. They were hit twice and obviously couldn't make the operation in Victoria work. Can't say they didn't try, though. Hands down they were probably the most willing out of any new firm to try every trick under the sun to attract and retain employees but ultimately too many factors were against them.

This situation is very unfortunate for Victoria.


I'd say that the fact that demand is high enough for labour that call centres can't make money is a good sign for Victoria's economy.... and that's not unfortunate.

#10 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 06:47 PM

Ya, with all due respect to WEST, these weren't exactly high-quality skilled-labour jobs. MacDonalds employs far more than 450 workers in the CRD and if they all closed I don't think the economy would take any measurable hit. Look at it this way - thats 450 more potential Spyder Hoe operators, once they get some EI-funded training.

#11 gumgum

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 07:20 PM

Google ads work.
It seeps into your effing brain.

#12 Mike K.

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 08:54 PM

I'd say that the fact that demand is high enough for labour that call centres can't make money is a good sign for Victoria's economy.... and that's not unfortunate.


We certainly weren't singing that song when West came to town and it wasn't the last time, that much is certain. Any major loss of employment at any pay rate is no benefit to our economy over the long term.

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#13 spanky123

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 08:55 PM

The local economy will absorb the 450 jobs. The fact is that West boosted the entry level wage in this market and with them gone some of that pressure will be reduced.

$13 a hour doesn't sound like much but when you add full health and dental benefits plus MSP that adds another $1.50 - $2 an hour for a family. Add in job flexibility and the ability to work around a partners hours and many people will not be able to replace that here.

#14 Nparker

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 09:13 PM

$13 a hour doesn't sound like much but when you add full health and dental benefits plus MSP that adds another $1.50 - $2 an hour for a family.


The reason it doesn't sound like much is because it isn't - especially for a family. Bear in mind that even if West employees are getting 40 hours of work per week, their gross pay is only $520/week. Factor in at least 25% for taxes and deductions, and you end up with a net pay of only $390/week. How on earth does one support a family in Victoria on less than $1600/month? Forgive me if I don't weep for the demise of West. I am sure their employees will find at least equitible, if not better employment elsewhere in the region.

#15 Mike K.

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 09:21 PM

You serious? The company was offering $5 above minimum wage, benefits and bursaries for students and you're glad they folded their operation?

If someone can't find a better paying job with which to support a family that's very unfortunate, but West wasn't operating the sort of business that could pay the average operator $50,000 a year. Good luck to all those who lost their jobs at West, but why did they apply for and keep them if they felt undervalued and underpaid? Something tells me a majority of the people laid off will have a difficult time matching the income/benefits/bursaries they received from West, but I digress.

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#16 spanky123

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 09:35 PM

Nparker,

I am not going to argue with you the ethics of paying a living wage as a reasonable person can't disagree with you on that position.

The reality however is that most people are not willing to pay $3 for a cup of joe or slurpee. As a result, businesses pay what they can afford and the reality is that most unskilled service sector jobs in Victoria are in the $10 - $14 range without benefits. With West gone that price range may drop a little as many of the vacant entry level jobs in town will get filled and some of the pressure on wages will be gone.

I am also hearing lots of other rumours about companies in town that are having difficulty with the high US dollar and competitiveness in that market. I suspect that we will continue to see an easing of the labour market over the next 12-18 months here as we did in February.

I know, employees will always have lots of jobs to choose from - and real estate always appreciates!

#17 G-Man

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 06:50 AM

TO be honest I don't lament the loss of West. I mean perhaps if they were located downtown they could have attracted more workers, I know a few people that were willing to take less money to keep jobs in the city.

Also this was not 1000 jobs, this 426 jobs, not a huge amount of workers. 7/11 is offering a similar wage and benefits package currently so perhaps this will just be enough to some restaurants opening more than 4 days a week. That is right I know of restaurants that are currently forced to cut back their operations because they just cannot get enough people to work for them and the average server makes far more per hour than a west worker, though granted it is harder work.

#18 Mike K.

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 09:11 AM

But not everyone wants to work at 7/11 or in a restaurant. The key to a healthy economy is job diversity.

With respect to money, some individuals will gladly accept less pay to work where they feel comfortable and where they excel at their job. Some people just aren't cut out for the restaurant business, or the service industry in general.

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#19 G-Man

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 09:53 AM

^

Some people just aren't cut out for the restaurant business, or the service industry in general.


From the West employees I have seen you are bang on the money there.

#20 spanky123

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 10:00 AM

Not to mention that many restaurant jobs are not full time and are seasonal. Most do not provide benefits.

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