The labour union opposing the imminent shutdown of a call centre in the Scottish Highlands is cautioning that the local economy stands to suffer greatly.
British Telecom’s decision to cease its operations in Alness, Scotland, as part of a cost-cutting initiative across the UK, may lead to the loss of approximately 100 employees, including both permanent and temporary workers. Despite a proposal by the trade union to allow employees to work remotely or at the BT call centre in Thurso, which is situated roughly 145 kilometres away, the telecommunications company has declined the suggestion. Having been a significant employer in Alness for nearly a quarter of a century, BT maintains its commitment to Scotland by offering relocation options to either Dundee or Manchester.
The call centre in Ross-shire was designated as a “key service centre location” by BT in 2021. However, the company plans to reduce its UK locations from 300 to just 30. In an effort to preserve jobs in the city, the Communications Workers Union, which represents the site’s employees, has presented several alternative proposals. The union contends that the relocation offer is not a viable solution for most individuals. Alan Aldred, a representative of the union, stated, “We believe that our counter-proposal is beneficial both from an individual and business perspective, and that it can be achieved without causing harm and even offering some advantages for the company. Our proposals aim to prevent significant job losses in one of the most remote areas of the UK, where alternative employment opportunities are extremely limited.”
A BT spokesperson explained, “We are currently undergoing a period of profound change and investing in our future. As part of the Better Workplace program, we are assessing our facilities in the UK to determine our long-term requirements. In Alness, we intend to close our local site and will engage in detailed discussions with the affected colleagues regarding the implications for them. There will be no impact on our customers. Our commitment to Scotland as a long-term business location remains unwavering.”