Global ticket reselling platform Viagogo has confirmed it plans to “reduce” it’s workforce at its call centre operation, located in Co Limerick.
170 staff at the firm’s Castletroy centre have been placed on protective notice for the next 30 days, a spokesman confirmed.
The decision was made due to economic challenges associated with the spread of Covid-19.
The spokesman, who moved to allay fears the company was gearing towards a complete pull out of Limerick, said: “The company is very much stressing the commitment to the office in Limerick which is absolutely key to the company’s operation worldwide to the extent they have taken out a long term lease on an attached building where they hope to expand into when this unfortunate pandemic becomes under control.”
Viagogo, which has offices in New York and London, employing 616 people across Europe, the US, and Asia, allows people to buy and sell tickets for live sports and entertainment events.
The spokesman said the industry which has been severely impacted by the postponement and cancellation of major sporting and entertainment events across the world due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Staff in Limerick were informed at a meeting Thursday that the proposal will be to reduce headcount in the Customer Service, Seller Support, Administration as well as Quality & Training Developments.
“Redundancies may occur” but “will be a last resort”, the company stated.
A statement from the company provided to this journalist stated: “Viagogo can confirm that unfortunately due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, our business has been one of many temporarily impacted by the postponement and cancellation of events worldwide.”
“To adapt to the challenges we face, we have notified staff in our customer service centre in Limerick that they have been put on protective notice for the next 30 days, which could result in a number of employees being asked to move to a part-time work schedule or requested to take temporary leave.”
“The result of this unfortunate and uncertain environment is that some redundancies may occur but we have not decided or acted upon this, and naturally it will be a last resort.”
“Our customer service centre in Limerick and its staff remain a vital part of the viagogo Group of companies, and we do not make any of these decisions lightly.”
The contents of an "important notice” sent to Viagogo’s Limerick employees, Thursday, stated that ”VGL Support Services Ireland Ltd”, a member of the Viagogo Group responsible for the company's customer service operation in Limerick, “announced that after careful consideration it intends to enter into a 30 day consultation process to reduce our employee numbers”.
“We understand this is very difficult news to hear.”
According to the company’s guidelines on temporary lay-off and short-term working guidelines, delivered to employees, the company stated: “the degree of impact on the business will depend on the severity and length of disruption”.
It said the decision was not a reflection of it’s "dedicated employees", but “rather, a consequence of the current unprecedented situation facing the company, and the rest of the world, regarding the Covid-19 pandemic”.
“We have no choice but to reduce staffing levels at this time," it added.
Meanwhile, a Viagogo employee who contacted the Limerick Leader newspaper claimed they were invited to an online meeting Thursday and informed the company would "go into a consultation period and that all our jobs were at risk".
They mentioned reducing staff members, and that the few left would work on reduced hours.
“This was a massive hit for all of us. Most of us have a family to care for.”
They added: "While it is understandable that the company may be in a delicate moment due to the outbreak, we think that there are other alternatives to this as many other companies are doing to avoid this many people to be redundant.”
“We are already working from home since March and most colleagues, myself included, would be willing to be laid-off for a while or work reduced hours in exchange for long-term stability.”
“We believe that this can impact very negatively, not only our families but also the local economy too."
A notice delivered to employees, seen by this reporter, stated: “We expect to retain certain services and a number of employees, which will be discussed during the consultation phase.”
“The Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is available to all colleagues and their families for support during this time,” it added.
When asked about the potential impact of COVID-19 on the company’s operations outside of Ireland, a spokesman replied: “Like every business, all aspects of any operation are under review during this challenging time and we look forward to when this pandemic passes and all businesses can get back to normal.”