THE 400-job call centre lined up for the former Dell manufacturing building at Raheen will – if confirmed – be operated on behalf of the new state water company, Uisce Éireann.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan revealed in late November that Limerick would be getting 400 new jobs, but did not provide any further information at that time. Since his surprise announcement, at the Limerick Chamber dinner, there has been a clampdown on any information about the expected jobs, which Mr Noonan had said were “at the final stages of negotiation”.
The Leader has since revealed that the jobs have been lined up for the EMF 3 building in Raheen and this week – exactly four years after Limerick was bracing itself for the devastating news from Dell – we can confirm that the first 100 jobs at the new venture are expected to be filled by the middle of next year. The remaining 300 are likely to come on stream by mid 2014.
The Leader understands that the tender process by which the jobs are being established has yet to be concluded. However, there is strong local optimism that this is now a formality. While those close to the process locally were taken aback by the timing Mr Noonan’s public announcement, they remain very confident that official confirmation is now imminent.
In April, the Government announced the introducion of domestic water charges under the aegis of new body to established as an independent State-owned company within the Bord Gáis group.
It is expected that Bord Gáis/Uisce Éireann will take over the operation of water services from local authorities on a phased basis over approximately five years.
The new call centre, however, will be operated independently and has in recent months been the subject of a bidding process.
The Kerry-based service provider Fexco has been working with Bord Gais since 2008 and provides support at a customer contact centre in Killorglin.
Fexco is expected to secure the Uisce Éireann call centre contract and agreement for the company to operate it out of the vacant Raheen building is now very well advanced.
It is understood that a requirement of the bidding process was that the jobs be based close to a signficant urban population, due to the high number of positions that will need to be filled.
Those jobs will include a range of different responsibilities and salaries, with the new call centre team dealing with all householder queries, including those related to low pressure, pollution or cut-off in supply.
The chief executive of Bord Gáis, John Mullins, has stated that agreement must be reached with local authority workers who are currently responsible for the water system.
A committee set up for conclude that agreement is being chaired by Kevin Foley of the Labour Relations Commission.
There will be a flat fee to householders at first for water, before the introduction of a metering system.