Devastation in Northern Ireland as BT to withdraw 300 jobs from its Enniskillen site by October 2024 - DUP MLA Deborah Erskine says 'a major blow for the town'

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Economy Minister Deirdre Hargey has expressed her disappointment at today’s BT announcement to withdraw 300 jobs from its Enniskillen site by October 2024.

Ms Hargey said: “It is extremely disappointing that BT has decided to close its Enniskillen contact centre with a loss of 300 jobs.

"As a major employer in the region for over three decades, this decision is devastating for the workers and their families, and also for the wider community.”

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Deirdre added: “In line with his commitment to regional balance Conor Murphy met with both CWU representatives and BT to retain these skilled jobs.

"He also supported Invest NI’s concerted efforts to work with BT to find an alternative site within Enniskillen so these jobs could be retained.

"I have asked Invest NI to ensure every step possible is taken to support the staff impacted.”

Fermanagh & South Tyrone DUP MLA Deborah Erskine said the news that over 300 BT/EE employees in Enniskillen have been told a proposed date of closure for their office later this year is a major blow to the town.

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Mrs Erskine said, “Whilst the company are not being definitive, there appears to be no likelihood that the jobs in question will remain after the required consultation.

working in an officeworking in an office
working in an office

"This is a major blow to Enniskillen, with the loss of over 300 jobs, but primarily my thoughts are with all of those directly affected by the announcement.

"When the news first emerged in February, staff were told that the site was not likely to be a long-term location for a customer care centre, but that no final decision had been made.

"There has been a significant campaign since that time in an attempt to retain jobs in Enniskillen if possible. I am currently engaging with the Chief Executive of Invest NI and I am awaiting a meeting in relation to Enniskillen with the Economy Minister.

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"The consequences for the local economy in Enniskillen as a result of such a decision to close the BT/EE site are far reaching.”

She added that “regional balance in our economy is very important and particularly for areas in the West like Enniskillen which are further away from some of the main population centres and so opportunities are more difficult to access”.

"Whilst those staff who have not signed up to the voluntary paid leaver scheme have been given the option of moving to another location, this is not likely to be feasible for many people,” she added.

"The company has previously been warned about the reputational damage they could suffer as a result of how this has been handled, so it is incumbent upon them to ensure that the terms of redundancies put in place treat staff fairly.”

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A statement issued on behalf of the Fermanagh and South Tyrone Ulster Unionist Party added: “The Fermanagh and South Tyrone Ulster Unionist Party has expressed its deep disappointment at the decision of BT/EE to end operations at the EE Enniskillen site by the 31st October 2024.

“This is a regrettable decision that will have a profound impact on each and every worker at BT/EE Enniskillen.

“Ulster Unionist colleagues have been pushing for a solution to the long term future of the Enniskillen site in both council and Assembly Chambers.

"Our MLA Tom Elliott had been lobbying the then Economy Minister Conor Murphy to step up and provide support to the Enniskillen site.

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“This decision follows what we suggest was a deliberate ambiguous exercise that BT/EE carried out with the workers, elected representatives and department officials that was deeply frustrating about the future of Enniskillen”.

A BT Group spokesperson said: “Earlier this year, we announced a review of our contact centre in Enniskillen as part of our ambitious workplace transformation programme modernising and consolidating the number of offices we have.

“We recently closed our voluntary paid leavers offer for colleagues and over 80% of colleagues have taken the opportunity to take this up.

“We have now made the difficult decision to propose closing the site to the small number of remaining desk-based colleagues on 31st October and have entered into consultation with colleagues and trade union partners.

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“We will continue to support all impacted colleagues throughout this process. These proposals will have no impact for customers. BT Group continues to make significant investments in the rollout of full fibre broadband and 5G mobile connectivity across Northern Ireland.”

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