Page last updated at 07:45 GMT, Friday, 30 April 2010 08:45 UK

Final day for Shop Direct workers in Sunderland

Shop Direct Sunderland
The closure of the Sunderland call centre was announced in January

Hundreds of Shop Direct staff in Sunderland have arrived for work for the last time, after the company said the call centre was no longer viable.

The home shopping group said in January it was axing 900 posts in the city because more people were using the internet to shop.

The company said about 400 people had already found new jobs.

But union bosses said they were still in dispute with the company over the level of some redundancy settlements.

Shop Direct said over the past five years, its proportion of sales via online had increased from 18% to more than 60%, and less people were using the telephone to buy goods.

The group owns brands including Littlewoods, Additions Direct, Very, Empire Stores and Marshall Ward.

We are hopeful that the excellent skills base our members have will help them find jobs at other call centres in the city
Mick Hopper, GMB union

It also bought the Woolworths name in the UK following the company's closure and has turned into an internet retailer.

A company spokeswoman said: "The closure of the site will take place on Friday. All 900 employees will leave the business.

"To date, we understand 400 colleagues have found alternative employment and around 250 are planning to retire.

"We have worked closely with JobCentre Plus who have been on site with us during the past weeks and they will maintain that momentum for anyone who is still looking."

Mick Hopper of the GMB union said: "We still have a collective grievance with the company over some of the redundancy payments which could go to a tribunal.

"However, we are hopeful that the excellent skills base our members have will help them find jobs at other call centres in the city.

"It is a sad day for the workers, some of whom have been here for more than 20 years."



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SEE ALSO
Shop Direct confirms site closure
05 Mar 10 |  Wear
Jobs hope for call centre staff
07 Feb 10 |  Wear
Task force meets over job losses
05 Feb 10 |  Wear
Shop Direct plans 1,500 job cuts
28 Jan 10 |  Business
Unions meet over Shop Direct jobs
29 Jan 09 |  England

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