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Hundreds for chop as Tiscali launches Pipex jobs purge

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Tiscali will slash hundreds of customer care jobs at recent acquisition Pipex broadband and voice, staff were told yesterday afternoon.

According to Reg sources at the firm, technical support will be provided by Tiscali call centres in North Africa and India from January 18.

Tiscali refused to answer any questions* about the redundancies or how customers will be affected today, citing "an internal consultation process".

Three major Pipex sites are slated for closure by September 2008, sources have claimed.

The Minton, Stoke-on-Trent, call centre employs more than 200, according to the Pipex website. It will be shuttered.

The Manchester centre, taken over by Pipex from the Cauldwell Group in the Homecall acquisition last year, will close. Sources say Tiscali has announced it would like to cut 650 jobs by closing the site. The Manchester Evening News has a story suggesting 300 may be gone by Christmas.

The Welwyn Garden City office is also for the chop.

Tiscali paid £210m for Pipex's 570,000 broadband and voice customers in a deal completed in September. It emerged as the only interested party in a long-running auction process that also included the Bulldog and Toucan brands.

The firings will come in three quickfire rounds, pending the mandatory employee consultation. The first redundancies are set for January next year, when the majority of Pipex call centre and technical support staff will lose their jobs. Second and third purges are scheduled for the end of February and the end of April 2008.

Tiscali will retain Pipex's sites at Stoke Mandeville and at Sligo in the Republic of Ireland.

The Italian-owned firm targets the bargain basement of the broadband market, so the cost-slashing exercise comes as no surprise.

Prior to the Pipex acquisition, the City said Tiscali was vulnerable to a takeover itself as it suffered from ever-tighter margins against incumbents BT and Virgin Media, as well as cash-rich new entrants such as TalkTalk, Sky, and the mobile operators. ®

*For all it's worth, here's Tiscali's whole statement:

Following the acquisition of The Pipex broadband and voice division in September, alignment of our key operations is important to ensure we maximise the opportunity for the Tiscali UK Group moving forward.

Where we can make decisions we are moving forward quickly, but we are in an internal consultation process with employees and will not discuss specific plans or sites outside of that.

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