As some of you know I lost my job at the beginning of this month, as if finding a job in today's climate is not hard enough an old employer of mine from years ago confounded my job hunting by adding just over 1000 to the areas unemployment queues, some of them people I know and a few of them friends.
Yes I am talking about what was one of the towns biggest employers CJ Garlands who shocked its staff yesterday by making all 1000+ (bar a few skeleton staff) redundant, although the news seemed to be no big surprise to the call centre staff who could see something like this happening after the loss of a contract with a major mobile phone network early last year. The way the staff at Garlands call centre were told about the loss of their jobs is a different matter, not the fact that the company had gone into administration but how they were told.
From what I have heard and read in todays Hartlepool mail the way Chey Garlands staff were told was to say not what you would expect from a person or a company which prides its self on a constant professional approach in all aspects of its business. Something which is drummed into its staff right from day one.
Yesterday staff at Garlands call centre turned up for work as usual, logged into their computers 15 minutes before the start of their shift, put their head sets on and logged into their phones as usual. From what I have read and heard Chey Garland turned up for work, smiling at the receptionist she made her way to her office without a word. Everything was as every other day untill about 2pm everybody was told to sign off their phones for an announcement. A pre recorded message was played over the inhouse radio station "Radio Gaga" Telling everybody that C.J. Garlands had fell into receivership and that everybody should clear their desks and leave the building as they no longer had a job there or words to that effect. That was it.. The redundancies were across the board, everybody from the Customer services advisor at the end of the phone to Team leaders, Managers. From what I have heard even Payroll and HR were given the same orders. Just pack your bags and go.
There are some who have worked at Garlands for upwards of 10 years, Customer services is all they know and now with only one small call centre left in the town they have no idea where to go next. I can say that I know exactly how they are feeling. Probably the worst bit is yet to come as they go into the routine of getting everything ready on Sunday night for their shift on Monday morning only to remember there is no shift. I know I did just that.
It is obvious to anybody that Chey Garland knew in advance what was going to happen but for what ever reason she did not tell her staff or give them any notice at all. As one of Cheys ex employees said to reporters, "You hear about all these companies who sack people by text message and email, as far as Im concerned this is just as bad".
As for Chey Garland, what of her? Well it seems that the person who recorded the announcement had left the building before it was aired, (very brave). For their moment there will be no more spending upwards of £500 on booze and chocolates at Asda for client visits. She will be OK. as for the rest of her loyal staff.. Who knows.