ISLANDS MSP CALLS FOR MORE PUBLIC SECTOR JOBS TO BE BASED IN THE ISLANDS

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan this week (5 June) raised the issue of the support being offered to employees to Stornoway-based TalkTalk employees during a session of Questions at the Scottish Parliament.

In February, the telecoms company announced that it would be making all 59 staff at its site in Stornoway redundant at the end of July. Talktalk are one of the largest private sector employers on the island.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented:

“This was a useful opportunity to again raise the predicament of the workforce at TalkTalk.

“We are entering a crucial period of time as the workforce are set to be made redundant at the end of next month. I know that HIE and the Scottish Government have been trying hard to attract potentially interested businesses both in terms of the site and the skilled workforce at TalkTalk.

“Nearly 60 jobs is a sizeable amount for an economy the size of Lewis and their loss could have a very significant impact on the local economy. It is important that we examine whether there are opportunities for more public sector jobs to come to the islands and I look forward to seeing how this will be approached in the National Islands Plan.”

Extract from the Scottish Parliament Official Report:

TalkTalk Employees (Stornoway)
4. Dr Alasdair Allan (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP):
To ask the Scottish Government what progress it has made in assisting the workforce of the TalkTalk call centre in Stornoway. (S5O-03327)

The Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills (Jamie Hepburn):
The Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and partnership action for continuing employment—PACE—partners are continuing their contact with TalkTalk and with the staff who face redundancy to ensure that all employment opportunities are explored, and that pay support is provided.

Dr Allan:
TalkTalk has been a significant employer on Lewis, so the loss of jobs will have an impact on the broader economy. Will the Scottish Government commit to examining whether there are opportunities for more public sector jobs to be based on the islands?

Jamie Hepburn:
I very much recognise the key role that public sector jobs play in the economy of the islands and, indeed, in economies in all parts of Scotland. The Scottish Government is consulting on development of the national islands plan, which will set out a number of objectives, including on employment, for supporting and promoting our island communities. We will always be willing to look at opportunities that make sense, and at what can be done.

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