Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure
This Written Statement provides an update on the recent announcement by Tesco to consult on the consolidation of its Customer Engagement Centres (CEC) into a single site in Dundee, Scotland, where 250 jobs would be created. This would lead to the closure of the Cardiff based site next year with the potential loss of 1,100 jobs.
This is devastating news for the workers and their families. The First Minister and I have already spoken to Matt Davies, the CEO of Tesco to express our concern at this decision, and reiterated our commitment to do everything we can to support the workers during this very difficult period. We will work in close collaboration with Tesco and the major support agencies locally, including Careers Wales, Jobcentre Plus, colleges and Cardiff Council to deliver a comprehensive package of support for all the workers affected by this decision. The union USDAW are working closely with colleagues to provide the support they need and are closely engaged in the ongoing consultation process.
This is unexpected news - the customer service industry is particularly strong in Wales, with Cardiff proving itself as a successful and growing location for operations across a broad range of subsectors. Needless to say, any move that takes jobs and investment out of Wales is not good news.
Tesco have reiterated that this decision is not a reflection of performance or doing business in Cardiff. To date, the site has been very successful.
We are keen to work with Tesco to mitigate the impact of this news to see what future alternative use there is for the site and whether employees can be redeployed at other locations. In the event that there are job losses, Welsh Government officials will liaise with the various agencies and organisations which are able to work with affected employees to provide support, advice and guidance, and identify alternative sources of employment.
Our ReAct 3 programme provides a comprehensive package of support to individuals in Wales who are affected by redundancy, and to businesses which employ an eligible redundant worker. The aims of the programme are to help redundant workers in Wales find new employment in as short a time as possible after redundancy and preventing progression into long-term unemployment.
We have also alerted our employer contacts, including the Welsh Contact Centre Forum to the skilled staff coming into the jobs market over the next year. The Welsh Contact Centre Forum will work where it can with Tesco and the affected employees to help secure alternative employment in the industry.
There is significant interest from companies across the region to absorb available talent in the financial and professional services sector. Employment opportunities are being created at other regulated customer service centres, which gives us some reassurance that alternative opportunities will be available.