More than 600 workers in Sydney, N.S., are celebrating an early Christmas after abruptly losing their jobs nearly two weeks ago.
Marlowe Companies Inc. (MCI) confirmed Tuesday night it hopes to have people working by Jan. 2 at the former ServiCom centre, which will reopen as The Sydney Call Centre Inc.
U.S.-based Marlowe Companies won an auction earlier this week to take over the call centre.
“Wahoo!” cheered Georgina Stewart, one of the ServiCom employees who was laid off Dec. 6 without warning. “We’re coming back.”
Anthony Marlowe, CEO of MCI, said the company would do everything possible to help employees, including providing employment offers with sign-on and retention bonuses to ServiCom workers.
There were tears, laughter — and even some Christmas songs — as the workers embraced the news.
“I’m 54 years old and I love my job,” said Stewart. “We have a great family there.”
George Sharpe, a fellow employee of the former ServiCom centre, said the change of fortune was “a Christmas miracle.”
“It’s great news. I’m elated and I want to thank Mr. Marlowe for coming into town, and taking over and doing what he’s done for everybody.”
On Wednesday morning, the joy rippled through the Salvation Army parking lots as many workers lined up in their cars to receive turkeys and other groceries donated by Sobeys.
“There was not much I could do financially, but this I could definitely come out and help,” said Cathy Harris, who helped hand out the donations.
Harris worked at ServiCom for 19 years and wanted to give her time in thanks for the support from the community.
“Plus I get to see all my co-workers because you know, I love them all, I miss them,” said Harris.
“So it couldn’t be a happier day at this point.”
VP says all employees will be hired back
Todd Riley, ServiCom’s former director of operations, said all the employees will be hired back.
“There might be a few transfers from one program to the next depending on the availability,” said Riley, who will be vice-president of the new centre.
“But I anticipate to have everyone back that was on the payroll.”
Riley said the auction for the call centre came down to three bidders.
It’s significant that Marlowe won the bid at $1.5 million, said Riley.
“Having an offer like that, it was like a bidding war and they [the employees] should be proud that someone bid this much for their talent,” said Riley.
The workers are also grateful for the outpouring of support from the community they’ve received during the last two weeks.
“Merry Christmas everybody,” said Stewart. “We appreciate everything.”
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Majority of Canadian workers willing to take less pay for a workplace pension plan: survey
A majority (70 per cent) of Canadians say they’re willing to forgo a higher salary in exchange for a workplace pension plan, according to a new survey for the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan by Abacus Data.
The survey, which polled more than 2,000 Canadian adults in April, signals an opportunity for employers to build back the post-coronavirus pandemic working landscape better by expanding access to good retirement plans — whether they’re defined benefit, defined contribution or group registered retirement savings plans, says Steven McCormick, senior vice-president of plan operations at the HOOPP.
According to the survey, a secure retirement remains of greater concern for Canadians than concerns about their health, debt load and job security. McCormick says this has been a consistent worry the HOOPP has seen in survey results over the past couple of years. Nearly half (48 per cent) of respondents said they’re very concerned about having enough money in retirement, while 31 per cent were highly concerned about their personal debt load and 26 per cent cited their job security. Close to half of respondents expressed high concerns for their physical (43 per cent) and mental (40 per cent) health.
In addition, the pandemic has harmed the finances of more than half (52 per cent) of Canadians’ surveyed and it’s had a particularly disproportionate affect on the finances of younger adults. Adults aged 44 and younger said they’re twice as likely (25 per cent) to have had their finances greatly harmed, compared to those over the age of 60 (12 per cent).
Generally, younger adults tend to work in roles that may have been impacted most by the pandemic, says McCormick, whether in service industries that were shut down or frontline health care that have been busy but don’t always come with access to a pension plan. “Affordability is an issue, so I think their worries increased during this time.”
And while almost half (46 per cent) of Canadians surveyed said they’ve saved more money than they would have since the onset of the pandemic, among these respondents, over half (52 per cent) didn’t put any of their savings toward their retirement. Overall, most (63 per cent) Canadians surveyed haven’t set aside or saved anything for retirement in the past year, a five-point increase since 2019.
McCormick says this may be due to uncertainty or hesitancy about whether people’s immediate needs outweigh longer-term needs. And with 55 per cent of respondents noting they were very concerned about the cost of day-to-day living, he adds that rising prices have fuelled insecurity and worries so people are creating their own emergency funds right now.
While there’s a segment of the population who’ve saved more and, for them, the pandemic has created wealth, he doesn’t see this as a common narrative in the survey data. “If you don’t have access to a workplace pension or the opportunity to have things like automatic enrolment, the uncertainty of the time may have you holding onto money,” says McCormick. “In Ontario, we’re more optimistic about the pandemic than we were maybe a month ago, but there are still people worrying about whether there’ll be a fourth wave.”
In addition, more than two-thirds (67 per cent) of respondents said a retirement crisis is looming and 65 per cent said saving for retirement is prohibitively expensive. It’s a common and shared dream for many people in looking forward to a secure retirement, says McCormick, noting for many, making that dream a reality remains elusive.