ONE of the UK’s largest retail merchant services has been slammed by online critics, including Duncan Bannatyne, after staff accused the company of using the pandemic as an excuse to sack them.
Valitor fired 14 entry level staff at its Glasgow branch on Tuesday, claiming they were “restructuring the business”.
However, the company is said to have kept on all its HR and senior management by putting them on furlough.
Ex-employee David Brown, from Glasgow, believes there was no restructuring plan until the coronavirus outbreak and was even offered a promotion just two months ago.
David, who has since been admitted to hospital suffering from Covid-19, branded the move “immoral”.
He uploaded the email informing him of the company’s decision to Twitter on Wednesday [1 Mar], captioned with: “Yesterday myself and 13 colleague in Valitor’s Glasgow office were let go with immediate effect, whilst the company chose to furlough all the management.”
The letter from Valitor reads: “I am writing with regards to your position as Business Development Advisor within the call centre in Glasgow.
“As explained to you by Jamie, due to a business restructure which will see us moving in a different way to generate sales and income.
“Unfortunately, it has not proved possible to find a solution for the call centre other than to make compulsory redundancies.”
It then states the end date of employment as Wednesday [1 Apr].
The letter sparked outrage among social media users, including from business Tycoon Duncan Bannatyne.
The millionaire mogul retweeted the letter writing: “What? Why not furlough all of you?”
@johnsimmonds13 added: “No, that looks indefensible and suggests to me they have a hidden agenda.
“I’ve heard of a company doing similar and making loads of redundancies . They are using the crisis to cut costs as they are struggling.”
@NicholasNicola wrote: “This is disgusting! The Furlough scheme is specifically to help employees through this difficult time, and doesn’t cost employers anything! They are using the virus as an excuse to lay off staff they don’t want, unfairly and callously.”
And @JamesWakefield said: “Disgusting that. Just an excuse to get rid of people.”
Speaking today David said: “My colleagues have families, mortgages, bills, etc just like everyone.
“We are only on £17,500 a year – it wouldn’t kill them to furlough us and claim it back.
“All 14 of us are now left high and dry and it’s desperately immoral and unethical.
“We have still been given no explanation from anyone as to why we aren’t being furloughed yet all the Business Development Managers are being kept.
“We are all being made redundant with immediate effect with our final official day for the company being Wednesday.
“No one had mentioned any form of business restructure before this at all. We recruited and started 4 people just weeks earlier.
“We are told that all the business development managers and the National Sales Manager plus HR would be getting furloughed for 3 months.”
Valitor’s estimated annual revenue is thought to be around £153 million and they have 375 employees nationwide.
Christine Bailey, managing Director for Valitor UK and Ireland said: “One of these was to end our call centre operations as they no longer fit our business or our clients’ needs. We therefore took the difficult decision not to renew the lease on our Glasgow office and to make 13 call centre agents redundant.
“We didn’t furloughed these employees because we are ending this business practice, and we thought it would be wrong of us to take a government grant in this case. However, to help them through this difficult time, we will be supporting our call centre employees with two months’ furlough, after which the redundancies will take effect.
“I can’t comment on individual cases, but I can tell you that we recently undertook a strategic review of our SMB business in the UK and we decided to make several fundamental changes to our business model.
“We fully understand that those being made redundant are upset and we are very sorry that we had to make this decision. Unfortunately we have been left with little choice given current SMB trading conditions.
“In a separate move, and in response to the heavy impact that COVID-19 has had on our business, from 1st April we also furloughed approx. 50% of our remaining UK employees who will return to work once the government lifts trading restrictions. We have the utmost sympathy for everyone who has been impacted by COVID-19 and we hope we all return to normality soon.”