MORE than 500 staff could lose their jobs at two North- East call centres, it was revealed yesterday.

Outsourcing company Firstsource confirmed that 542 staff working for Barclaycard on Teesside have been told they are facing redundancy.

Firstsource has started a 90- day consultation period with staff at Barclaycard’s Massey Road offices, in Teesdale, Stockton-on-Tees, and at Firstsource’s premises at Fountain Court, in Middlesbrough.

Some staff may be redeployed to work in other areas of the business, but it is not yet clear how many jobs will be axed.

About half of the jobs at risk are permanent contracts, with the remainder of staff on temporary contracts of varying lengths.

Staff from Barclaycard were transferred to the outsourcing firm in 2010 as part of a fiveyear contract, in a bid to cut jobs on Teesside from 700 to 150.

Firstsource axed 170 staff last year from the Massey Road site, with part of the business being moved to Manila in the Philippines.

The outsourcing company embarked on a recruitment drive six months ago, taking on about 200 staff, many on one-year contracts, to process a raft of inquiries, including payment protection insurance (PPI) claims.

However, Firstsource say the surge has now reduced and staff numbers must be scaled back as a result.

However, one employee told The Northern Echo last night that he was angry staff had been taken on within the past two months.

He said he believed staff in areas of the business outside PPI, including training and quality control, were also told their jobs were under threat.

“I know people who have joined in the past seven or eight weeks, some of who have left full-time permanent jobs to come here, thinking they were going to another, permanent and steady job.

“It is really bad for them, they must feel very angry about the situation, especially as they won’t get redundancy pay.

“I am shocked and annoyed that this been allowed to happen.”

Firstsource’s marketing director Fraida Silver told The Northern Echo that the firm was cutting staff as a result of a reduction in demand for PPI claims, but admitted jobs in other areas supporting PPI were also at risk.

She said staff would be redeployed to other areas of the business where possible.

“We don’t expect the final number (of job losses) to be anything like 500. We are confident many of the people who have been told their jobs are at risk will be found new roles.

“In the last year, we had been building up our staff numbers in the area of PPI claims handling in response to Barclaycard’s additional requirements.

“This surge of PPI claims has reduced and, as a result, we now need to scale down our staff numbers.

“There will be opportunities for some of those colleagues to be offered alternative work within Firstsource, and we are doing our utmost to minimise the impact on the colleagues whose roles are now at risk.”