ServiCom Closure Leaves Students in the Cold
Updated: Sep 27, 2020
An employee walks through the newly-emptied ServiCom offices on Thursday. (Cape Breton Post)
Around 600 hearts broke on Thursday when a call centre in Sydney shut down, leaving people unemployed just a few weeks before Christmas. Not surprisingly, for those who depended on their position at ServiCom as their sole or main source of income, the unexpected closure has been a source of enormous stress.
When Servicom’s parent company JNET filed for bankruptcy in October, and employees were frustrated by continual delays in payroll, those who stayed were promised a $250.00 loyalty bonus for mid-December; a Dec. 14th target date that will not now be reached. Along with this, several other bonuses as well as tuition reimbursement were promised for applicable staff.
For the students working at ServiCom, it added to their stress at a time when final exams were just getting underway, unemployment a worry hard to ignore. Sukriti Bhardwaj, who worked for SiriusXM at the call centre and studies Psychology at CBU, told us that she “had been working here [at ServiCom] for nearly 6 months now. There were a few signals that pointed towards the closing of the organisation. They delayed our pays a lot of times. I was working here part-time, but was about to switch to a full-time schedule in winter break. I’ll have to look for a new job all over again, which is tough in winters as most of the businesses slow down. It’s really stressful, of course. This job was at least paying my rent and groceries, if not helping me with the tuition fee. I’m just trying to stay positive by assuring myself that I’ll do good in exams as I won’t have to think about going to work.”
“I have no idea how I’m going to pay my rent or utilities” – Ishmeet Kaur, CBU Psychology
Even with the warning signs, ServiCom was still hiring people almost right up until the business shut its doors on Thursday. Ishmeet Kaur, a CBU Student also pursuing her degree in Psychology, said that “I was just hired, so I had been training for four days. They kept on saying that the company is working fine and we’d all get paid, but just a little late. They promised us it would not take more than a month. I have no other job prospects for now. My investment from India, that is the GIC, is coming to an end and I’m jobless. I have no idea how I’m going to pay my rent or utilities.”
We also spoke with Chandan Chaudhary, another student of CBU, who was anticipating work in the call centre as they told him that they would be hiring in December. Chandan hoped to pick up the job during his winter break so that he could earn enough to support his life in Sydney. His relief at the prospect of work was palpable, he described ServiCom as being like a ray of light for him after he heard from his mates that they were always hiring. He said, “It is hard to get a job now as the competition is tough – already so many students are in line to get a job. I have tried everywhere I can, even rented a car to distribute resumes but in vain. So, I am just blank [on] what to do now.”
Some student employees of ServiCom we reached out to refused to answer any questions as they were too upset with the developments, apprehensive of looking for new jobs during the harsh winter.
Seaside Communications staff opted to forgo their annual Christmas party and instead donate $10,000 to support affected employees of ServiCom. (The Salvation Army)
While government officials and employees alike are hopeful that a buyer for the company will be found soon, in the meantime efforts are being made to help those affected ahead of the holiday season. The Cave Bar and Lounge has started a fundraiser to donate the money directly to the people. The Salvation Army Sydney Community Church on 55 Inglis Street will be opening its food bank on Monday, Dec. 10th from 1-3pm for Christmas assistance registration. The Christmas assistance will be a partnership between The Salvation Army and Every Woman’s Centre. You need a recent pay stub as proof of employment. Alexandra’s Pizza dropped $3,000 off in gift cards for ServiCom workers, and these are just a few of the ways the community is banding together to support the approximately 600 people newly unemployed just before Christmas. As new information comes in over the next week or so, we will begin to understand just how many people will be left out in the cold this holiday season, and whether or not things will soon return to normal.