1 in 50 Alness residents will be hit by BT closure, First Minister is told
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IMPENDING job losses threatening to devastate an Easter Ross community have been raised directly with First Minister Humza Yousaf.
Confirmation that comunications giant BT is to close its Alness contact centre prompted Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant to raise the matter at Holyrood.
In First Minister's Questions, she called for direct intervention stating that company has received “hundreds of millions of Government funding”.
Mrs Grant said the closure will impact approximately 1 in 50 local residents of Alness. Most of these employees have been loyal to the organisation with some dedicating over 20 years of their career.
The First Minister said that his Government do everything they can to avoid job losses and that the relevant Cabinet Secretary will outline directly with Mrs Grant on what they have done and what they will do moving forward.
Rhoda Grant said: “BT have said that working from home options for the employees is not a viable option and I refute that given the organisation’s core purpose is communications! Given the size of Alness, this closure will have a huge socio-economic impact that cannot be understated.
“BT should be leading the way for flexible working, including working from home, and they should be trying their hardest to keep their skilled and loyal workforce. To refuse to do that is shameful and should impact them and their future funding by Scottish Government.”
A BT Group spokesperson said: “Following a thorough consultation process with colleagues and our partners at the Communication Workers Union (CWU), BT Group can confirm that it has taken the difficult decision to close its site in Alness early next year.
“This process included careful consideration of the CWU’s counter-proposals, which unfortunately did not meet our business needs.
“The vast majority of colleagues impacted (around 90 per cent) have opted to accept enhanced severance terms and only a very small number of individuals remain in consultation over their options.
“We will continue to work closely with the CWU and external agencies such as The Highlands & Islands Enterprise and Partnership Action for Continuing Employment to support impacted colleagues in finding alternative roles.”
“BT Group is committed to Scotland. Earlier this year, we opened a multi-million pound refurbished state-of-the-art office in Glasgow for around 2,000 colleagues and we are building a new site in Dundee which will open next year.”