Tallink to leave small Swedish town without jobs17.08.2012, 12:00
Estonian passenger ferry operator Tallink has announced that it will transfer its Silja Line call centre from Kalix in Northern Sweden to Stockholm.
This is likely to cause a social disaster in Kalix that has a population of about 7,000 because Tallink was a major employer there with 48 jobs.
Silja Line which Tallink took over several years ago opened the Kalix call centre in 1994 creating about 100 jobs.
Local newspaper Norrbottens-Kuriren wrote that tallink made the transfer decision already in March when the company’s Swedish area manager Kadri land sent out an e-mail to the call centre employees.
This came as a surprise for most of the staff since only a year ago Tallink was seeking to hire up to 15 sales persons in Kalix.
Luulea Lääne, press spokesperson of Tallink, says that the transfer of the call centre is not a layoff, but a move to a new location. “All our employees will have a job in Stockholm and we hope that many of them will come with us to Stockholm,” she said.
However, it is highly unlikely that many current employees in Kalix would want to follow Tallink to Stockholm.
“There may be a few who have agreed to the move. I don’t think that many will go,” said Joakim Abrahamsson, head of development of the Kalix municipality, adding that despite many call centre employees have done this job since the start, local residents don’t want to leave their home.
Many question Tallink’s plan because wages in Northern Sweden are notably lower than in Stockholm, which is also why Silja Line opened the call centre in Kalix in the first place.
“Wages in Stockholm are notably higher than in Kalix and it is much more expensive to maintain a job there,” said Abrahamsson.
Lääne says that costs would not necessarily go up because Tallink owns a building in Stockholm, while in Kalix it was renting the premises.
“As for wages, the collective agreements made with trade unions establish similar wages all across Sweden,” she adds.