TWENTY-eight people were sent home from their jobs at a Bournemouth company and told they would be redundant by Christmas.

The staff worked at Holdenhurst Road for Ethical Forestry, which specialises in sustainable forestry develop-ment from an office in Costa Rica.

The affected staff worked in a call centre, which was shut down after risk management advice from lawyers.

Staff were told they would be paid for a further month and were sent home. One said the announcement had been “devastating” and added: “It’s just before Christmas so it’s going to be very hard for anyone to get a job quickly.”

Staff are being put in touch with a recruitment company and a call centre in the hope of them finding new jobs.

A statement from the company said: “Periodically, Ethical Forestry reviews its business from a risk management perspective with help from its lawyers.

“Our lawyers have pointed out some of the risk areas of running a call centre and as a result we are not prepared to take on these risks. As such we have decided not to continue with the call centre.

“All affected employees are being offered guidance and support. In the event that the redundancies cannot be avoided, we are offering introductions to a local recruitment company and call centre operator, hoping they may lead to an offer of alternative employment.”

The company offers investment opportunities in forestry to cash investors, pension funds and family trusts. It owns all of its plantations, with its nursery, plantation development and timber mill in Costa Rica.

Mandy Payne, president of Bournemouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said: “It’s disappointing to lose jobs in Bournemouth.”