DOZENS of Wigan workers are facing a bleak Christmas after their betting giant employer confirmed plans to axe more than 100 posts.
A 45-day consultation between staff, union representatives and Betfred bosses has ended with the company sticking to its recently-announced plan to shut its once thriving national call centre at Tote Park.
Stunned staff of the bookmaker chain were first informed of the company’s intentions in a statement last month and from the start the mood among employees from the start was that the susbequent consultation was simply going through the motions and closure was already a foregone conclusion.
Concerns have since been voiced by some seasoned staff that they were being “sold short” by their redundancy packages, receiving thousands of pounds less than they might have expected.
The deputy leader of Wigan Council, David Molyneux, has already called the job losses a “body blow to Wigan.”
Betfred says that some of the 14 full-time and 98 part-time staff have been found work in other departments and offices. But the majority of the call centre staff will be made redundant on December 11 - exactly a fortnight before Christmas.
The decision came four years after the Warrington-based company owned by billionaire Fred Done bought the former state-owned Tote, based at Chapel Lane in Wigan, for a massive £265m.
But it became increasingly evident that the call centre arm of the complex at Chapel Lane was no longer viable because so much custom had been moveing to online betting in recent years.
Betfred is keen to point out that other Wigan-based operations which together employ a further 150 people - including IT, project managers and the Tote pool transmission department - are staying put and are unaffected.