‘It’s go­ing to be a strug­gle’

For­mer ServiCom em­ploy­ees ap­pre­cia­tive of sup­port they’ve been get­ting

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY NANCY KING

■ LOST JOBS

As she stood out­side the Sal­va­tion Army food bank Fri­day await­ing her turn to reg­is­ter with them, Sharon McDon­ald’s thoughts were of her co-work­ers who, along with her­self, found out sud­denly Thurs­day af­ter­noon that they had lost their jobs at the ServiCom call cen­tre.

“It was dev­as­tat­ing for a lot of us,” said McDon­ald, an em­ployee at ServiCom since 2003. “We weren’t ex­pect­ing that.”

Even with sev­eral oc­ca­sions in re­cent months where em­ploy­ees re­ceived de­layed pay or awaited other pay­ments such as bonuses, she said noth­ing could have pre­pared the work­ers for the news that the call cen­tre was shut­ting down im­me­di­ately, throw­ing all 600 em­ploy­ees out of work.

“We didn’t ex­pect it be­cause I know Todd Ri­ley, the cen­tre man­ager, he did ev­ery­thing he could to try to pull us out of this and he’s still try­ing to fight for us to try to get some­thing go­ing.

“There’s so many young peo­ple with small chil­dren, Christ­mas is com­ing in three weeks, there were bills that were owed.”

McDon­ald noted her own chil­dren are grown but she and her part­ner still have bills to pay, and los­ing an in­come is never an easy ad­just­ment. By early Fri­day af­ter­noon she had al­ready filed for em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance.

“It’s go­ing to be a strug­gle, but I’m hop­ing that maybe they’ll re­open with the new own­ers that they’re talk­ing about. Hope­fully we’ll get to get back to­gether be­cause we are all one big fam­ily ... I wouldn’t trade those peo­ple for any­thing.”

In ad­di­tion to fil­ing for EI ben­e­fits and hop­ing that the call cen­tre might re­open, McDon­ald said she also in­tended to look into what cour­ses may be avail­able for her to take.

As she spoke, McDon­ald learned that Alexan­dra’s Pizza had dropped off $3,000 in gift cards for the work­ers who had lost their jobs.

“I think it’s won­der­ful be­cause Cape Bre­ton is a place of giv­ing, we all look af­ter each other, no mat­ter hard times, good times, we’re all to­gether,” she said.

McDon­ald added she’s grate­ful to those such as the Sal­va­tion Army who reached out to the for­mer ServiCom em­ploy­ees.

“Ever since my chil­dren were small, and my old­est ins 29, the Sal­va­tion Army has helped me a lot over the years,” she said. “

The Sal­va­tion Army Syd­ney Com­mu­nity Church had an­nounced it would open its food bank to as­sist all em­ploy­ees of ServiCom, with only a re­cent pay stub re­quired as proof of em­ploy­ment. As well, in part­ner­ship with Ev­ery Woman’s Cen­tre, it will of­fer reg­is­tra­tion for Christ­mas as­sis­tance at the church, lo­cated at 55 Inglis St., on Mon­day from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Other var­i­ous fundrais­ers have been dis­cussed on­line and Cape Bre­ton Scream­ing Eagles of­fered for­mer ServiCom em­ploy­ees com­pli­men­tary tick­ets to Satur­day’s home game against the Que­bec Rem­parts. They were in­vited to go to the Cen­tre 200 box of­fice with their iden­ti­fi­ca­tion badge to get tick­ets for the game.

Michelle Hil­lier of Mar­ion Bridge, who worked at ServiCom for five years, said the news of the cen­tre’s clo­sure hit hard.

“It is a profitable busi­ness, it does well and to come to us at 3 o’clock and say, ‘Log off,’ it’s …”

“They screwed us,” a nearby man in­ter­jected.

“Yeah.”

The lack of pay has left peo­ple scram­bling, par­tic­u­larly given the time of year, Hil­lier said, not only be­cause of Christ­mas be­ing around the cor­ner but also with re­spon­si­bil­i­ties such as in­creas­ing heat­ing costs.

“It’s not the presents that I’m wor­ried about this year, it’s be­ing able to heat my home and have my lights.”

Her part­ner is work­ing at a lo­cal re­tail op­er­a­tion but the loss of the ServiCom in­come has left them scram­bling. She noted their oil tank was just filled and they were due to pay the bill by Thurs­day but had to ad­vise their sup­plier that it would be late.

She noted em­ploy­ees haven’t yet been given their records of em­ploy­ment or other pa­per­work.

“They say pos­si­bly 30-60 days but I’m not gonna count on that,” Hil­lier said. “At EI, it was like go­ing to a fu­neral. Our heart breaks. It’s a job we’ve been ded­i­cated to for years.”

She was also very ap­pre­cia­tive of the sup­port that has been shown to the em­ploy­ees by their fel­low Cape Bre­ton­ers.

“I think it’s great that Cape Bre­ton is com­ing to­gether to help oth­ers out, es­pe­cially this time of year, three weeks be­fore Christ­mas, it couldn’t have hap­pened at a worse time,” Hil­lier said.

NANCY KING/CAPE BRE­TON POST

Sharon McDon­ald, who had worked at ServiCom since 2003, dis­plays the num­ber she was given when she ar­rived to reg­is­ter at the Sal­va­tion Army food bank in Syd­ney Fri­day as well as a pizza shop gift card that was do­nated to the af­fected work­ers, a day af­ter 600 peo­ple lost their jobs with the sud­den clo­sure at ServiCom. Agen­cies, busi­nesses and in­di­vid­u­als have pledged to do what they can to as­sist those who have been left un­em­ployed.

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