Western Union axes 140 jobs in Victoria

Upwards of 140 white-collar jobs will be terminated at Western Union’s Business Solutions company in downtown Victoria.

Employees learned Tuesday that some of the positions will be cut from the payroll at the end of August, while others will continue into 2012 to give them time to look for work, said Kristin Kelly, Western Union director of communications.

A handful of workers can apply for other positions if they are interested in relocating. A total of 110 jobs will remain on the local payroll.

Business Solutions, located on Fort Street, is the only company of its kind under Western Union’s global umbrella to face such deep staffing cuts.

“The company has made some changes over the course of the last year or so, to create efficiencies, consolidate facilities,” Kelly said of the money-transfering empire that spans 200 countries and territories worldwide. It processed $76 billion in consumer dollars last year.

Among the jobs eliminated include deal and payment processing, facilitating cross-border transactions, anti-money laundering, specialists working with banks, IT support, online services, corporate accounting and treasury.

Some staff members have been with the company for several years, long before Western Union bought Custom House in 2009. The company is said to have been one of the largest independently owned foreign exchange companies with a nearly 20-year history.

“These employees have really worked hard and contributed to the business, so it was a really difficult decision,” Kelly said.

Not long after Western Union acquired Custom House there were early warning signs of trouble ahead, such as the removal of senior management from Custom House operations.

“They were … identified as a company that was under risk two years ago,” said Bruce Carter, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. “What happens is, you lose the local voice at the management table.”

Following the staff cuts, Business Solutions will see its downtown office space scaled back from four buildings to one. Those additional properties will be leased or sold, though no decision has yet been made, said Kelly.

emccracken@vicnews.com

 

 

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