In joint letters to the CEO of BT and the Chair of Openreach, North East MSP Mike Rumbles and Aberdeen's Liberal Democrat councillors have called on the companies to protect over 100 jobs in Aberdeen by taking advantage of technologies that allow people to work from home.
This month, BT and Openreach announced plans to close the Aberdeen headquarters at New Telecom House, putting 140 local jobs at risk.
In the letter to BT CEO Philp Jansen and Openreach Chair Brendan Dick the North East Liberal Democrats cited the wealth of experience that would be lost if staff at the local office are made redundant. They also noted the growth of the digital economy in recent months and that over £1 billion of public money has been invested in improving telecommunications in Scotland.
Mr Rumbles said: "It's astounding that BT would make this announcement at this time, while so many people are feeling uncertain about their livelihoods and the future.
"Over the past few months employees across the country have been successfully working from home using the very technology that BT provides. There is no good reason that a company like BT should not take full advantage of the new opportunities that come from digital communication and allow its staff to continue working from home."
Ian Yuill, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Aberdeen City Council, added: "The staff at New Telecom House have decades of experience working in telecommunications and there are many high skilled jobs that would be lost to the community if these cuts go ahead. It would be a short-sighted and heartless for BT to throw that all away just because it wants to terminate its lease of the building. Its staff, Aberdeen and the North East deserve better.
"The digital economy is growing faster than ever before and Aberdeen will continue to be the hub for much of the North of Scotland. BT should embrace that change and invest in the future of the city."
Notes for editors:
- Joint letters from Mike Rumbles MSP and Cllr Ian Yuill to Philip Jansen, BT Chief Executive and Brendan Dick, Chair of Openreach Scotland Board (28/07/20):
Dear Philip Jansen/Brendan Dick,Proposed redundancies and closure of New Telecom House, AberdeenWe are writing to you to express our concern with the potential loss of 140 jobs at BT's Aberdeen headquarters and request that you explore options from allowing staff to continue to do their jobs from home. Whilst we understand that New Telecom House is no longer a suitable location for BT and Openreach, we believe that there is an opportunity for your companies to retain their workforces and presence in our city.As you are aware, many BT and Openreach employees have shown immense resilience and flexibility over the recent months as they have been forced to work under new conditions from home. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the growth of online technologies and digital connectivity and that will allow many people to continue to work from home even after the crisis has abated.As the UK's largest telecommunications providers, responsible for the vast majority of the infrastructure that we all use, we have no doubt that BT and Openreach want to take full advantage of this change in working practices. Over the past decade over £400 million of public money has been spent improving broadband in Scotland alone and another £600 million has been earmarked for the same purpose, to be spent over the next two years. That is not to mention large scale investment in 4&5G technologies and mobile infrastructure.We are very optimistic that the growth of the digital economy will continue and that Aberdeen will continue to be the major hub for telecommunications in the North of Scotland. With decades of experience working in the telecommunications industry we believe it would be short-sighted for BT and Openreach to lose that expertise by cutting its workforce in Aberdeen or for those jobs to be moved to another location.We would be grateful if you could explore these options and provide a response.