AgeasNATIONALIST and republican politicians are to meet with bosses at Ageas Retail call centre in west Belfast this morning to try and save over 2o0 axed jobs.

It is the first time management have agreed to talk with political representatives after cocking a snoop at them last week.

Local MLA Alex Attwood will meet the chief executive along with other SDLP representatives to discuss the potential loss of 220 jobs and said he will be “firmly seeking answers”.

West Belfast MP Paul Maskey will also meet with the Managing Director of Ageas on Monday.

Last week the company announced it was shutting its Springvale site because of falling business.

However, a newspaper in Stoke later revealed the company was seeking planning permission to extend a site in the area and create 300 jobs.

Tearful staff were sent home last Thursday and are due to return to work this morning before a 90-day redundancy consultation process begins.

Mr Attwood said: “This is the first time Ageas Retail have broken cover to speak to politicians.

“The failure of the company to provide proper information to workers first and foremost and to everyone else thereafter has been unacceptable.

“The company now need to answer key questions.

“First, in January Ageas Retail told the West Belfast staff that things were going well. Why is there a plan to close now?

“Second, if the company plans to expand its English operations, why are they closing their business in Northern Ireland?

“Third, if the Belfast operation is more profitable than their Bournemouth call centre why are staff here losing their jobs? And on and on.

“I will be firmly seeking answers so the workforce can be properly informed, not treated in a shoddy manner. Big challenges now arise for Government and Invest NI.

“They must work to save these jobs. If all the jobs can’t be saved the workforce must be given every opportunity to have employment in the other call centres coming to Belfast.

“With a good workforce and good accommodation on the Springfield Road, Invest NI must be sure new work and new business comes to the site.

“Ageas Retail must answer all these questions.

“Invest NI must respond to all the issues.”

Local Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey said he wanted to know why Ageas staff were told their jobs were being axed.

“We need to establish the facts why this notice was given to the 220 staff members. I will ask Ageas to do all they can to safeguard all the employees on this site.

“I’ve already met with Invest NI and I requested that they meet with Ageas to see if a positive resolution can be found.

“It’s important that agencies and Ageas do all they can to protect the 220 employees on the current site in West Belfast.”


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