TalkTalk Employees (Stornoway)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 5 June 2019.

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Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

4. To ask the Scottish Government what progress it has made in assisting the workforce of the TalkTalk call centre in Stornoway. (S5O-03327)

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

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.

Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

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?

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

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.

Photo of Rhoda Grant Rhoda Grant Labour

I agree that public sector jobs should be dispersed throughout Scotland and should not be centralised. Will the minister consider a staff buy-out of TalkTalk? That would allow staff to bid for call-centre work so that the jobs could be retained in Stornoway.

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

Thus far, no such proposition has been advanced, but as Rhoda Grant knows from my previous remarks, the Government has high ambitions in respect of employee-owned businesses. If the workforce is interested in making such a bid, I would be delighted to engage with the staff directly.