World Online UK is to make 53 people redundant in what has been described as the start of a "massacre of UK employees" following the company's take-over by Italian telco Tiscali last year .
Employees at the company's call centre in Ramsgate, Kent, were told yesterday and are the first to go following World Online UK's decision to close part of its telecoms operation.
Further job cuts are expected at the firm's Surrey-based offices in Godalming as the Tiscali-owned business carries out a full strategic review of its UK operation.
But sources close to the company claim that when it's finished the Tiscali's UK operation will effectively become little more than a shell with key business functions outsourced to external suppliers.
Said one insider who asked not to be named: "This will reduce the UK Tiscali operation to a very virtual company, with few real assets, and even less real interest in the UK."
Derick Martin, Business Change director for Tiscali in the UK, refused to rule out further redundancies as the operation continues conducting a root and branches review of the company's whole operation in the UK.
Last year Tiscali bought World Online and LibertySurf and has left it until now to conduct a review of the enlarged business.
Said Martin: "This is not the 'start of a massacre' - we're restructuring [and consolidating] the business to be a top three player in the UK."
However, Tiscali's record on rationalisation shows that it likes to prune its newly acquired operations hard.
Earlier this year it axed all its employees in Switzerland because it already had an operation there and wanted to eliminate duplication.
Tiscali's other UK concern - LibertySurf - has had its own clear-out with key employees, including MD Paul Shalet, jumping ship before getting the push. ®