Page last updated at 10:31 GMT, Thursday, 29 January 2009

Unions meet over Shop Direct jobs

Gates at premises of Shop Direct
Shop Direct owns a number of brands, including Littlewoods

Union leaders are meeting managers at home shopping firm Shop Direct after it announced plans to axe 1,150 jobs.

Usdaw officials will examine the firm's business case for closing its call centre in Crosby, Merseyside, as part of the 90-day consultation process.

The group said 1,000 redundancies would be made at the centre, as well as 150 at its sites in Speke, Aintree, Preston and Manchester.

Claire Curtis-Thomas, Labour MP for Crosby, is also meeting bosses.

Shop Direct, formerly Littlewoods Home Shopping, said the closure of its call centre, one of seven across the UK, was part of its transformation into an online-led business.

Despite widespread job losses in other industries, its decision was not linked to the recession but the increase in popularity of internet shopping.

I understand the impact of unemployment on a family and I will try to do everything I can
Claire Curtis-Thomas, Labour MP for Crosby

Shop Direct's online business accounts for 56% of its sales and this is predicted to rise to 70% by 2010/11.

Ms Curtis-Thomas told the BBC the announcement had not come as a surprise, but said the redundancy proposals were not "innovative" enough.

"I would like to see more of the approach we've seen in Jaguar, to allow people a longer period of time to plan what's going to happen to them. Three months is not long enough for people to do that.

"The vast majority of these people will come from my constituency or very near, and the vast majority of those people are women."

The company offered "fantastic" flexible working that suited women with childcare responsibilities, said Ms Curtis-Thomas.

"A significant number of single mums are going to find it very, very difficult to combine their caring responsibilities with employment - this employment was vital," she said.

The MP, who is to meet officials from Shop Direct and groups such as the North West Development Agency (NWDA) on Monday, added: "I was born and raised in Wales. I understand the impact of unemployment on a family and I will try to do everything I can to mitigate the circumstances for the people concerned."

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SEE ALSO
Shopping firm jobs under threat
21 Oct 08 |  England
Littlewoods axe 1,200 in shake-up
09 May 06 |  Business
Littlewoods cuts Shop Direct jobs
15 Jun 04 |  Business

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