Metro One to lay off 50 in isles
Its call center here provided directory assistance to Hawaiian Telcom
A total of 50 Hawaii workers learned from Metro One Telecommunications Inc. yesterday that the struggling telecommunications company would lay them off in phases over the next 60 days.
"We regret the circumstances," said Ron Arp, spokes-man for Metro One. Affected employees will be given severance packages based on length of service, he said.
The employees work at Metro One's Honolulu call center, which has had a contract to provide directory assistance services to Hawaiian Telcom Communications Inc. since last March.
Hawaiian Telcom spokes-woman Ann Nishida had no comment on the closure yesterday.
Last April, after Metro One disclosed that it would need to raise cash to survive, Hawaiian Telcom said it had plans to ensure uninterrupted directory assistance service if Metro One encountered problems fulfilling its contract.
The news comes as the Oregon-based company restructures itself to improve its cash flow as well as to pursue its "nascent data and contact service business."
Metro One will exit the wholesale directory assistance business by May 5.
In addition to Honolulu, the company will also close or sell its call centers in Minneapolis, Charlotte, and Orlando, on the heels of recent call center closures in Long Island and Portland.
It will also reduce corporate staff at its Portland headquarters.
Altogether, about 600 call center and related positions will be eliminated at a cost of $3.6 million plus future cash expenditures of $2.3 million.
The company plans to assist existing telecommunications customers find alternative solutions.
Metro One has been struggling financially for years, having lost money each quarter since the first quarter of 2003. Last summer, Metro One also received a Nasdaq staff deficiency letter following the resignation of a member of its board of directors.
Following the transition, Metro One expects to employ about 70 at the company's headquarters, providing inbound and outbound contact services, while leveraging its extensive databases and proprietary information systems.