AN MSP whose constituency covers Inverclyde has vowed to lead the fight to keep 450 call centre jobs in the district and take on mobile phone giants EE over their closure plans.

Greenock Telegraph:

Labour's West Scotland representative Paul O'Kane says that he will fight to keep the company in Greenock.

The bombshell news that one of Inverclyde's largest employers was moving out sparked 'shock and anger' among the workforce and a wave of responses from stunned local leaders.

Inverclyde MSP Stuart McMillan raised the closure of the call centre, which is now part of the BT group, in parliament and called for the site to be considered as the location for a new Greenock police station or college campus.

But Mr O'Kane is determined to fight to keep EE in Inverclyde, declaring: "I am prepared to go all the way with BT to ensure that whatever plan they have it protects jobs and keeps EE in Inverclyde.

"This is dreadful news for the Greenock community and the wider community of Inverclyde.

“At this moment I am thinking of all the BT/EE workers who will have never have thought this would happen.”

“I can assure them all that I will be seeking an urgent meeting with BT to understand the impact of their plans.

“It is clear that this will have a major impact on the hundreds of local staff who will now be expected to commute to Glasgow in the midst of a cost of living crisis, if indeed their jobs are retained at all given the ongoing redundancies at the site.”

Mr O'Kane added: “At a time when we must do everything we can to attract people to live in Inverclyde to reverse the impact of population decline, sites such as the EE call centre are vital.

“It’s vital for the local economy that the site, old or new, stays in Greenock and we need to hear a cast iron guarantee that workers will keep their jobs.”

But MSP Mr McMillan said: "I have suggested that this does provide scope for a new police station or college campus to be located at the site, and I’ve sought support from Scottish Enterprise to help progress this idea.”

However, his suggestion was met with criticism from the council leader Stephen McCabe, who accused Mr McMillan of 'hoisting the white flag' of surrender.

Councillor McCabe said: "I am disappointed that Stuart McMillan is already suggesting alternative uses for the building, when the employer is undertaking a statutory consultation on the future of the site.

"He should be engaging with the company and the Scottish Government to explore what can be done to retain these jobs in Inverclyde rather than hoisting the white flag and simply accepting that they will go to Glasgow."

Inverclyde MP Ronnie Cowan told the Telegraph that he was 'deeply disappointed' by EE's decision.

Mr Cowan said: "As there are no plans for any redundancies that means workers, many of whom live in Inverclyde, will remain in good employment.

"The company has also pledged to fully consult with unions over the planned re-location which is not due to take place until November.

"There is also a promise to bring in a two-year travel support programme for staff. We will hold them to this."

"The community of Inverclyde benefits greatly from investment here and it is a major set-back that these jobs are being re-located.

"There is the wider issue of small local businesses and the possible effects the removal of this facility could have on them.

"We must move swiftly to market the building, which is in a superb location, and I will be asking the UK Government what measures it will take to mitigate the effects of this re-location on Inverclyde."

Councillor Martin McCluskey, who is standing for Labour at the next general election, said: "I’ve reached out to union representatives to discuss the situation. While the company has said that jobs are protected, there are still many questions that need answered, including the impact on other local businesses and the local economy.

“Coming just a year after Amazon announced its closure, this is another blow to the local community and points, once again, to the need for both the UK and Scottish Governments to provide more support for Inverclyde.”