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Prudential job losses - Chief Executive should talk to Amicus Union

10 May, 2006

Sinn Féin North Belfast MLA's Gerry Kelly and Kathy Stanton have called on the Chief Executive of Prudential to get into immediate talks with the Amicus Trade Union to discuss the loss of 500 jobs after the closure of its Belfast Call Centre operations.

Mr Kelly, after a meeting with the Amicus Union at Sinn Fein's North Belfast office, has also questioned the Prudential Belfast Centre closure, pointing out that the centre has in the past been hailed as one of Prudential's most cost-effective.

The company is transferring its operations to three centres in Stirling in Scotland, Derby in England and Mumbai in India.

Mr Kelly said:

"My colleague Kathy Stanton and I are contacting Prudential's Chief Executive to ask that he enters into immediate discussions with the Amicus Union. We are of the opinion that this should have been the first thing that the Chief Executive did when planning and announcing this closure. Nonetheless, he should meet with Amicus now as a matter of urgency.

"The loss of 500 jobs will have a devastating impact on people who are losing their jobs as well as a serious knock on effect on the local economy.

Mrs Stanton said:

"We are alarmed that Prudential are moving from it's Belfast centre that has high union membership to other centres without union recognition.

"We also recognise the loss this will cause to the local community, as workers from Prudential have been involved in great work within schools in North Belfast, attempting to increase employability for local youths moving from education into full-time employment.

"The closure of the Prudential Call Centre operations in Belfast also highlights the vulnerability of an economic development strategy based on attracting call centres generating low value jobs which, by their nature, are transitory.

"Sinn Fein believes that the current approach of direct rule ministers and economic development agencies is misguided and short-sighted. They continually tell us that the main way to get out of poverty is through employment, though these job losses go uncontested in one of the most deprived areas in the north.

"The first job of a new Executive must be to put developing a long-term strategy in place that harmonises regimes across the island and puts investment in indigenous businesses at its heart." ENDS

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