Sitel to lay off 158 workers

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sitel corporate officials announced this week that the company will lay off 158 employees at its Sanford call center on Tues., Dec. 1.

In letters sent to Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson and Sanford call center employees on Tuesday, Sitel corporate officials cited “the departure of a significant client” as the reason behind the layoffs of approximately 150 customer service representatives, six “coaches” and two “learning specialists.”

Currently, the call center employs approximately 500 employees.

Officials said call volume for the company’s T-Mobile account has decreased dramatically, prompting the cell company to move its business to a new site, and Sitel’s recent efforts to locate new clients were not successful.

“Although we are always pursing new clients and new business opportunities, we anticipate that the separations from this location may be permanent,” the letter stated.

Affected employees were given written notice Tuesday of the “reduction in force” and told the majority should qualify for unemployment benefits.

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson said he was “saddened” to hear the news.

“First and foremost, I wish to say how deeply sorry I am for the affected individuals and their families,” he said. “Such news is always bad, but it is especially so as we near the holiday season.

“Second, it is important to remember that while this is a significant reduction in Sitel’s operation, we are confident that the remainder of their workforce is stable and that management is aggressively seeking new clients to absorb the loss.”

He said the company remains a viable member of our business community and is committed to Andalusia and Covington County and its decision “is not a reflection on our workforce or Sitel’s performance.”

“Likely, it is the result of a business decision based on factors beyond the control of anyone involved,” he said.

“This event also reminds us that we must redouble our efforts to attract new jobs to our community and work to expand existing businesses and industries,” he said. “We must never grow complacent with job development as our economy is truly global and subject to the pressures of constant competition.”

Attempts to reach Sitel’s vice president of marketing and sales were not immediately successful.