A dozen people will lose their jobs at the Ballarat Taxis Co-Operative call centre.
The co-op has announced it would move to a part-time call-centre. Bookings after hours and on weekends will go to the 13CABS centre in Melbourne.
Ballarat Taxis chairman Stephen Armstrong said it was regrettable but they had had no choice.
“The directors have agonised over it over a number of months,” he said.
The directors have agonised over it over a number of months...to remain viable it was a course of action we had to take.- Stephen Armstrong
“To remain viable it was a course of action we had to take.”
Mr Armstrong said the 12 people were all casual, currently doing between four hours and a few shifts a week.
He said they had shifted several to other jobs within the organisation, helped others get other work, with “three or four” of the employees still looking for jobs.
Two were at retirement age so would finish working, Mr Armstrong said.
Full-timers and one casual will stay on working the reduced hours once the change comes in on June 19.
The plan was first made public late last year but has been on the cards for longer, with the call centre losing contracts for taxies in other parts of Victoria and Australia.
Mr Armstrong said the decision had been spurred on by a system upgrade they have avoided by the change that would have cost up to $800,000, as well as longer-term business conditions.
He said it was not an investment they could ask owners to make with lower incomes and the prospect of UberX coming to town to compete.
“The Fels reforms actually had an effect of reducing (owners’) income substantially, so that’s probably been the flow-on effect,” he said.
Mr Armstrong said there would be some “hiccups” in the 13CABS arrangement initially as call-takers in Melbourne got used to Ballarat places and requests.
“If someone calls up and says ‘can you you pick me up from the Old Post Office; people going to say ‘can you tell me where that is’, so there will be smaller issues around that kind of things, but operators down there will get used to it,” he said.
“Eventually after a few months, the service will improve.”
He said Ballarat callers would not be placed in the same pool as Melbourne customers and would also have 24/7 access to the 13CABS mobile phone app and web-booking service.
Mr Armstrong stressed their taxis would provide the same service and the special number for wheelchair taxis would continue to operate.
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