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Anger as 26 people lose jobs at The National Trust in Melksham

STAFF at The National Trust’s contact centre  have criticised the company’s decision to close the branch in Melksham and say they’re angry with how they’ve been treated.

The National Trust announced in February  plans to move its Holidays Contact Centre in Melksham to its Supporter Service Centre in Bootle, Liverpool. The company opened a consultation period and staff at the branch submitted a counter proposal to the closure, but the decision was made in March to close the branch.

Staff at the centre were offered a transfer to Liverpool, but most of the staff declined the move, so have now lost their jobs. One woman, who preferred not to be named said, “I was taken on in November on a permanent contract, only to be told in February that the office would be closed. I left the job I had been in for more than 15 years to take up a position nearer my home in Melksham and to become part of a team, as my previous role was as a personal assistant. They must have known that something was going to happen when they gave me the job in November – you don’t make those decisions that quickly.

“I have since  found out that the National Trust had looked into closing the branch in the summer of 2016 but despite this, they still gave me a job on a permanent contract. They promised me a future and something to look forward to, but now they’ve taken it away.

“There was a consultation and the staff submitted a counter-proposal, but it was still decided that the office will close on the 2nd June 2017, with the call centre moving to Capita. In my opinion, the consultation was a waste of time as they had already decided to close the branch before even telling us.

“Some of the girls have been with The National Trust for many years and we are all very upset and angry at the way we have all been treated and  the way this has been handled by the management. They said to us, ‘Take heart in knowing that you helped save the National Trust’ – that was the only compensation we’ve had!

“I’ve been to my solicitor but what they’ve done isn’t legally wrong, it’s certainly morally wrong, but they’ve not broken the law. It’s incredibly sad because the branch has been a part of Melksham for such a long time and some of the ladies have worked there for more than 20 years. It’s disgraceful how The National Trust has treated its employees who have been so loyal.”

26 staff members have been impacted by the closure. Five staff roles have relocated from Melksham to the National Trust’s central office in Swindon. A further three new roles have been created within the new holidays structure at Heelis, the headquarters in Swindon.

A National Trust spokesperson said, “Centralising its operation will improve customer service and create a smoother user journey for its holiday customers. This is because the Supporter Service Centre (SSC) handles a variety of enquiries from National Trust members and supporters. With the service now being operated from the SSC, holiday customers have the flexibility to ask about different aspects of the Trust, such as its membership, events programme and fundraising activity and vice versa.”

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