Barclays has revealed plans to close its call-centre in Coventry shortly after the announcement of a long-term plan to computerise significant amounts of its processes.

Scheduled for June 2014, the closure will reportedly lead to the loss of 350 jobs, primarily among workers earning up to £17,500 ($28,000) a year.

The shutdown of the centre which handles online banking and secure payments, has been condemned by UK union Unite, with national officer Dominic Hook claiming the news would prove "deeply distressing" for the workforce.

Hook said: "Unite has real questions as to why such an important and productive centre in Coventry is being closed. This decision is damaging to Barclays, the staff and the local community in Coventry – where this centre is a large local employer."

"Unite will continue to press Barclays to find suitable local redeployment opportunities for the Coventry staff," he added.

Barclays responded to criticism saying: "We are focused on finding alternative employment options for all affected staff elsewhere within the group."

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"We appreciate that for some staff they may wish to take a redundancy option and this will be available."

The bank also added that some positions would be transferred to the Westwood Park site, while with others being relocated to Liverpool and Sunderland.

Louise Bennett, executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, called the news from Barclays "a bolt from the blue".
"We hope they are a significant number and that the company can work hard in the next eight months to help those staff who are not being retained find suitable positions," she added.

The announcement comes less than a week on from the bank’s announcement at the end of October 2013 that it intends to introduce automation to significant amounts of its services.

Chief executive Anthony Jenkins had said: "We’re working on ways to automate systems which have traditionally been performed manually, all but reducing the risk of human error and simultaneously driving down cost."

"Huge swathes of activity have the potential to be automated and we are in the vanguard of driving that in Barclays."

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