A union fighting the planned shutdown of a Highland call centre has warned its loss would be catastrophic for the local economy.
About 100 contracted and agency staff could go with the closure of BT’s Alness operation as part of UK-wide cost-cutting.
The telecoms firm has rejected a union offer of employees working from home or at BT’s Thurso call-centre, which is located some 90 miles away.
BT, which has been a major employer in Alness for almost 25 years, says it remains committed to Scotland and has offered redeployment to Dundee or Manchester.
The Ross-shire centre was identified by BT as a “key service centre location” in 2021. But the company plans to reduce its sites across the UK from 300 to 30.
The Communications Workers Union, representing workers at the site, has put forward a series of alternative proposals in an effort to retain jobs in the town.
It says an offer of redeployment is not a credible alternative for most people.
The union’s national officer Alan Aldred said: “We believe our counter-proposal makes sense from both the individual and business perspective, and we believe it achieves this with no detriment and indeed with some advantages to the business.
“Our proposals will prevent a large number of redundancies in one of the most remote areas of the UK where alternative employment opportunities are scarce.”
Mr Aldred said it would also counter recent accusations that BT was abandoning local communities by concentrating its physical presence in cities at the expense of fragile outlying communities.
A BT Group spokesman said: “We’re going through a period of immense change and investment for the future, and as part of the Better Workplace programme we’re reviewing our buildings across the UK against our long term requirements.
“In Alness, we have proposed to close our local site and are consulting with impacted colleagues in detail over what this could mean for them. There will be no impact to customers.
“We remain committed to Scotland as a long term location for the business. We are focused on our major Scottish offices including the multi-million pound refurbishments of our Glasgow and Dundee offices as well as our significant investments in both Edinburgh and Thurso.”
Talks between management and the union are set to take place in London on Friday.
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