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Tycoon donor puts UKIP policy into practice

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Jobs of 150 staff at Bristol insurance company founded by UKIP donor could go to South Africa

By Michael_Yong

2 June, 2015

EMPLOYEES at one of Bristol’s biggest insurance firms have been told their services might be outsourced to South Africa.

Some 150 members of staff at Go Skippy Insurance, founded by Thornbury businessman Arron Banks, have been sent home while a “consultation” gets underway.

Staff were left shocked after a representative told employees on Monday to pack up their belongings and leave the offices in Cribbs Causeway.

He read out a letter saying they were starting a trial to move services to Africa.

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Mr Banks made the headlines in October last year when the former Conservative donor gave £1 million to UKIP.

He had been planning to give the anti-EU party £100,000, but decided to increase that tenfold after William Hague dismissed him as “someone we haven’t heard of”.

A spokesman for Go Skippy – which offers van, bike, and car insurance – said it was undergoing a “period of consultation” with staff, but declined to comment on the outsourcing of work to South Africa.

A letter sent out by the company has been seen by the Bristol Post.

It said: “The most robust and prudent way for the company to test this new way of working is to divert all live functions in its entirety to South Africa for the period of this trial.

“This will ultimately establish if this proposal can succeed against rigorous and demanding service level agreements that will be scrutinised over the coming weeks.”

The letter goes on to say it will “significantly reduce” the workforce in the UK if the trial is successful, and that it was taking this measure after the poor results of the insurance business in 2014. It also states that during the trial period, departments in Bristol affected by the trial will be closed down.

One employee, who asked not to be named, has worked in the car insurance call centre since the company started in 2013.

She said: “I’ve been there from the start. When we first started, there were only about 60 of us.

“We were told on Monday that all of our work was going out to South Africa. They said we were to go on garden leave for 45 days and they were trialling out the idea.

“But they also told us to pack up our things and go, just leave.

“We haven’t been told if we would be going back after this ‘consultation’. Even if they offered me the job again, I wouldn’t go back.

“I am absolutely gutted at what happened. It is not just those of us who worked at the call centre, even managers have been told to leave.

“I think it’s quite ironic that he (Mr Banks) is a UKIP supporter and yet is taking his business to South Africa.”

Another employee, a customer service executive who has worked for the company for about nine months, said: “I think it’s shocking. We started the day as per normal, but at around lunchtime were called into a meeting. Someone read from a script and told us to take our stuff and go.

“I’m just devastated. The job was good, and my team members were like family.”

Another member of staff, who is still working, said: “I think it is just ironic that someone who would donate money to UKIP, and a large sum as well, would outsource work to South Africa.

“The bottom floor, where the call centre is, is almost empty.”

Go Skippy is the trading name for Eldon Insurance.

Jaimie Hanley, Eldon marketing director, confirmed that it was “entering into a period of consultation with 150 members of staff across the business”.

He added: “Following three years of intense and rapid growth, Eldon is undertaking the consultation period with selected staff as part of a strategic initiative to restructure an element of its business model.

“Consultation has commenced with employee representatives and is continuing and so, it is not appropriate to comment further now.

“The process will allow the company to assess the strongest areas of success and set in place solid foundations for future growth and profitability across its centres in Newcastle and Bristol.”

The company refused to disclose details about the possible move to South Africa and denied staff were on gardening leave.

Read more: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/150-staff-Bristol-insurance-company-Skippy-told/story-26621857-detail/story.html#ixzz3c5P6pna0