Tuesday 15 October 2019

New water firm's 400 jobs boost

Ralph Riegel

Four hundred jobs are to be created over the next 18 months at a call centre handling Irish Water's customer services.

Abtran, based in Bishopstown, Cork, has secured a five year contract as part of the Government's plan to introduce metered water charges across the country.

The company, which also handles Revenue's property tax helpline, suspended a worker earlier this month after customers' credit card details were being accessed in a suspected fraud.

The creation of Irish Water, which is operated as part of Bord Gais, and the introduction of household water charges were part of the bailout loan agreements with Europe and the IMF.

Abtran's call centre will take on 100 people in July as the metering programme gets under way. Staff numbers will grow to 400 by the end of next year.

Phil Hogan, Environment Minister, said the redevelopment of the water infrastructure across the country will create jobs.

"These jobs are greatly needed and together with the 1,600 jobs to be created through the national metering programme, are examples of the economic benefits from a reformed water services sector," he said.

"Increased infrastructural investment, greater foreign direct investment from water-intensive industries and innovation in water technologies will create further jobs as reform of the water sector is implemented."

There has been a campaign against household and water charges by left-wing groups but yesterday's deadline for the property tax saw a sudden influx of payments with 80% of homeowners now paid up.

Abtran already has contracts with the Government for the National Transport Authority, Eflow and in the private sector for Aviva, Electric Ireland and Sky.

It has about 1,100 workers at present.

The Irish Water contract will see it provide customer services to about 1.6 million domestic and commercial users.

Dr John Tierney, irish Water managing director, said: "The setting up of the call centre will support the start of the national metering programme this summer, as well as the development of an Irish Water customer database in advance of the start of domestic billing.

"Ensuring that we have adequate resources to provide help and support to customers is a priority, and today's announcement is one of the first major steps in transforming the way public water services are provided."

Irish Independent

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