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The Cape Breton call centre that abruptly laid off hundreds of workers just weeks before Christmas will officially reopen this Wednesday – offering bolstered pay and benefits.

Iowa businessman Anthony Marlowe purchased the former ServiCom call centre in an auction that was part of ServiCom’s bankruptcy proceedings in the United States.

In a news release Monday, Marlowe Companies Inc. (MCI) said more than 450 people have already applied for positions at the Sydney Call Centre Inc., and “substantially all applicants” will receive an offer letter starting Tuesday.

“The tenacity, enthusiasm, and loyalty of the team and community in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada is truly unique, and we are thrilled to be getting the call centre back into production as quickly as possible for our future employees and our new clients,” the company said.

If hired over the next month, workers with call centre experience from the last 90 days will receive a $300 starting bonus, the base pay and vacation levels from their previous employers and immediate access to benefits.

The starting wage for newly hired workers will increase to $12 per hour from $11 per hour.

All work programs will restart by Jan. 14, and the company is still accepting applications.

The company said it will roll out daily and weekly bonus programs, a “bolstered benefits package,” and greater flexibility in shifts and scheduling.

MCI had been in negotiations to buy the Sydney call centre in the weeks before its sudden closure.

The purchase at auction came as a godsend for workers left in the lurch when they suddenly lost their jobs.

With high levels of unemployment on Cape Breton Island, the workers had few options. Most were owed about four weeks in back pay when the centre closed, a liability that Mr. Marlowe’s company said rests with ServiCom.

Earlier this month, Mr. Marlowe said his company has “committed to hiring every employee back plus some.”

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