BT confirms Alness call centre will close early next year after rejection of union counter-proposals
Telecoms giant BT have confirmed that they will proceed with the closure of two Alness call centres after rejecting counter-proposals from the CWU.
The decision follows a "thorough" consultation process, which resulted in calls for flexibility from MSPs and suggestions that staff at the Teaninich Industrial Estate centre could be retained by offering home-working.
In a statement, a spokesperson said that counter-proposals did not "meet their business needs" and that the decision to close the centres was a "difficult" one.
BT has previously said that home-working was not possible as their policy nationally was to work in the office three days a week with home working available twice a week.
The group say that around 90 per cent of affected employees at its sites have opted for "enhanced" redundancy, while others remain locked in consultation.
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.”
Commenting on the decision, Rhoda Grant MSP said that the decision was "upsetting" and "frustrating" and that the communications firm should be "leading the way" on solutions such as home-working.
She said: “This announcement is both upsetting and frustrating. It is disappointing that the credible counter-proposal put forward by the CWU was not taken on. BT should be leading the way for flexible working, including working from home, to reject proposals on this does not speak of meaningful consultation.”
Speaking of the wider impact of the closure, Ms Grant added: “The site has been an important employer with a loyal workforce in the Alness region for decades. I hope BT are aware of both the social and economic impact this decision will take on the area.”