AROUND 50 jobs are set to be lost following plans to close BT’s emergency contact centre in Blackburn.

The telecoms giant said 45 permanent staff at the offices in Jubilee Street would be relocated to Accrington.


But 50 agency workers, employed by recruitment agency Manpower, will lose their positions according to the Communication Workers Union.

The union said many of the agency staff had 10 or more years of service and face poor or non-existent redundancy arrangements, or the prospect of starting on a lower wage at another centre.

A BT spokesman said its staff are set to move to the consumer customer connections team in Scaitcliffe Street.

Brendan O’Brien, the Communication Workers Union assistant secretary, said the union was shocked that a ‘high achieving centre’ would be closed.

He said: “Staff in Blackburn have recently put in thousands of hours in overtime to service busy call periods so the decision to close the centre down came as a real shock.

“We are dismayed at BT’s decision to close this busy and high achieving contact centre in what appears to be an ill thought out cost cutting exercise.

“As a union we’re disappointed in the way that BT has dealt with this closure.

“Less than adequate consultation has taken place with the recognised union and we believe alternative solutions could have been found.

“Or at least there needs to be a better managed approach to making this announcement which has been so distressing to staff.

“There are many concerns amongst the members that their skills, experience, childcare and caring needs will not be fully appreciated or considered, for those losing permanent nights this will be a real concern.

“We’re calling on BT to review this closure plan until proper consultation can be carried out.”

The move will take affect from November and Manpower have been called on by the union to find its agency workers adequate redeployment and support packages.

One BT worker said everyone was stunned when they were told.

She said: “There are people who have worked here for more than 25 years and now they are getting moved on.

“Everyone know’s everyone in this office and it’s like a family, but now we are being torn apart.

“It’s going to be difficult to commute to Accrington for some people if they have children or other commitments.

“It’s ridiculous and it’s so sad jobs have been taken away.”

The leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, Cllr Mohammed Khan, said he was very disappointed with the news of the closure.

He said: “It’s very sad to see the centre is being moved out of town.

“The jobs that are being saved and relocated to Accrington need to have good conditions for going there and the company should look into them.

“Losing jobs in any company is very disappointing, however some of these workers have been there for more than 10 years and have put all their efforts into the job.”

Blackburn councillor Tony Duckworth, president of the Blackburn and District Chamber of Trade, said: “It is a shame that the jobs are being stripped from Blackburn.

“However, there are jobs that are being saved and those employed by BT will get employment in Accrington.”

A BT spokesman said: “We have been seeing a reduction in a particular work volume impacting one of our teams in Blackburn.

“However, we have jobs for all our BT employees in our growing BT Consumer Customer Connections team in Accrington and are in the process of supporting them with the move there.

“Accrington is an important customer care team for BT Consumer.

“We announced last year that BT Consumer is going to answer more than 80 per cent of its customers’ calls in the UK by the end of 2016 and this means we need more people in our UK contact centres.

“All BT employees will get the opportunity to transfer over to Accrington.

“Manpower have some agency employees in the Blackburn site and we are providing support to Manpower as they talk to their employees.”

Manpower were unavailable to comment.