Time staff sent home as work dries up

The largest UK-owned computer supplier has asked staff to return on Thursday, as some worry that they may not get paid on time this month

Staff at Time Computers were sent home on Monday morning because of a lack of work, according to union sources.

This is the second week running that some Time staff have been asked to go home. Last Friday, allegations of problems at Time were described as "malicious" by Time’s HR director, Richard Harris. But a union source said on Monday that production staff at the company had been asked to stay at home for a second successive week, while staff in the dispatch and customer service departments were also asked to go home.

Staff were told this would last until Thursday, and that they would continue to be paid — but it is understood that some staff in the customer service centre refused to leave.

According to sources at the company, staff within customer services are angry that most of their work has been outsourced to India. On Friday, Harris said this claim would be news "to the 145 people here", but others at the company claim there are "less than 10 PC tech support staff left".

It is also understood that Time staff have suffered from delayed payments for two months running. The delays have been short but some are worried about payment this month.

The company has become a hotbed of rumour. "I work at Time, and we have been told nothing officially," one employee told ZDNet UK. "The place is full of rumours and everyone is worried about getting paid late next week".

It was difficult to substantiate or refute the rumours on Monday as Harris failed to return calls seeking comment.

Time has been struggling in recent months but has been a major company in the UK IT market for years. In September 2002 it described itself as "the largest computer operation in Europe" after the launch of 150 new retail stores called The Computer World, which it said would double Time's customer base to almost two million, with turnover rising to £300m.