Council unites against EE closure plans

INVERCLYDE councillors have united in their opposition to plans by telecommunications company EE to close its Greenock base and move nearly 450 staff to Glasgow.

The company, owned by BT Group, announced its intention to leave its Cartsburn office of nearly 25 years.

While there are to be no redundances, concerns have been raised that not all existing Greenock-based employees will be able to travel to Glasgow for work and that taking jobs away from the area will have a negative knock-on impact on the Inverclyde economy.

If the move does go ahead, almost 1,200 jobs will have been lost from Inverclyde in little over 18 months since the formation of the Inverclyde Socio-Economic Task Force, which includes both the UK and Scottish governments and other key partners.

At the most recent full council meeting, councillors unanimously agreed a motion to formally oppose the closure plans by EE and to engage directly with owners BT Group and both governments to see what could be done to keep the Greenock operation open.

It was also agreed that the council would link with both the Scottish and UK governments to see what support is available to keep EE in Greenock and for Inverclyde generally.

Councillor Martin McCluskey, who put forward the motion, said: “We can’t sit idly by while another major employer decides to pack up and leave the area and watch the devastating impact that has on employees, their families, and the local economy.

“There is only so much we, as a council, can do to try and create employment opportunities because our powers and resources are very limited.

“We need the help and clout of government to help us to bring businesses and jobs to the area, not lose them.”

The motion also called for assurances from the BT Group about arrangements for staff based in Greenock and the future of the Cartsburn building.

Councillor Jim Clocherty, who seconded the motion, said: “We have lost major employers such as Amazon and IBM in recent times and the loss of EE would be another hammer blow to Inverclyde.

“We simply cannot afford to lose more jobs from the area and we need urgent help from both governments to reverse this worrying flow of jobs out of Inverclyde.”

The motion in full as agreed by councillors says:

That the Council notes:

1. The announcement by BT Group that they plan to close the EE call centre building in Greenock.

2. Around 450 people are employed at site and most of the workforce are drawn from the Inverclyde area.

3. While there are no redundancies, this removes a significant number of jobs from the local area, with a knock-on effect on the local economy that is likely to get worse over time.

4. Despite repeated calls for financial support, the Scottish Government has so far not provided a penny of support in response to job losses over the past year and has not responded to calls made by the Inverclyde Socioeconomic taskforce for more investment six months ago.

Council believes:

5. In the past year alone, around 1,000 jobs have been lost from the Inverclyde area because of site closures.

6. Each job lost represents a loss to the individual, but also a loss to the Inverclyde economy. We cannot afford to lose more jobs from the area.

Council resolves:

7. To ask the Leader of the Council to communicate the Council’s opposition to these job cuts to BT Group and the Scottish and UK Governments.

8. To work with BT Group and the Scottish and UK Governments to establish if there is a way to keep the site open and to keep jobs in Inverclyde, and to direct the services and resources of the Council and our partners to help the 400+ staff members who are directly affected in this context, subject to any necessary Council approvals being obtained in the normal way.

9. To ask the Leader of the Council to write to the Scottish Government expressing our frustration that they have not come forward with any funds to support the Inverclyde economy in response to the requests from the Inverclyde taskforce.

10. To request BT to articulate fully the legacy arrangements that they will put in place :-

  • Legacy for Staff – travel/childcare/flexible working/packages proportionate to length of service
  • Legacy for site – there is a long relationship with this site as an employment route for people in Inverclyde and we should be pressing for alternative uses for the site to be considered at pace.

Proposed: Cllr McCluskey

Seconded: Cllr Clocherty

The full council meeting is available to watch on the Inverclyde Council YouTube channel via the link in the Other Websites section of this page.