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MSP slams 'lazy, cash saving' proposed closure of Alness BT centres in Easter Ross with 75 jobs on the line

By Hector MacKenzie

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Rhoda Grant MSP: 'This is a lazy and cash-saving and disguising it as modernisation does not wash with me.'
Rhoda Grant MSP: 'This is a lazy and cash-saving and disguising it as modernisation does not wash with me.'

THE proposed closure of BT centres in Alness – putting 75 jobs at risk – has been slammed as “lazy” and “cash saving”.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has written to BT to express her disappointment at the proposed closure which she was told about yesterday.

Yesterday, BT contacted the MSP to begin the consultation process on the closure of two Alness BT buildings.

The email from BT states: “Our Alness buildings are not considered suitable for long-term occupation and no longer meet the standard of accommodation that we want for our people.

"Given the location, we do not believe that any of the 75 BT Group colleagues working in Alness are within reasonable travel of an alternative BT Group location.

"So, as part of our consultation, we will shortly be offering colleagues the chance to leave on enhanced redundancy terms."

In response to this, Mrs Grant has contacted BT refuting this idea and has defended BT staff and their skillset.

In the email, from the MSP to BT, Mrs Grant states that BT has integrated itself into the community by providing careers, opportunities and apprenticeships to local people in and around Alness for over 20 years.

As well as this, BT staff have been positively engaging with community projects and charities for several years.

She then goes on to express her dismay at this redundancy method. Expressing that BT – given their core purpose – should be leading the way on homeworking and hybrid models.

Additionally, no effort appears to have been made on re-deployment options with BT partners such as Plusnet, Openreach or EE. Lastly no effort appears to have been made in finding a new local location such as at Alness Point Business Park, she states.

Rhoda Grant said: “This is a lazy and cash-saving and disguising it as modernisation does not wash with me.

“Some of these employees have been with BT for decades. They have a specialised skillset and losing that will not only have a huge impact on the organisation but also on the wider community – 75 jobs is a huge amount when considering the size of Alness.

Mrs Grant continues by saying: “BT should be leading the way with hybrid and homeworking methods so redundancies should not be required. To go straight to that highlights, to me, their real intentions.”

BT has been contacted for comment.

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