A LOCAL MLA has urged the Minister for the Economy to do "everything possible" to stop job losses at the BT Enniskillen site.

At the NI Assembly on Monday, DUP MLA Deborah Erskine asked Economy Minister, Colm Murphy, to urgently engage with BT following a recent announcement that it is undertaking a review of its customer services site in Enniskillen.

The announcement has sparked fears that more than 300 jobs will be placed at risk.

Responding to Mrs. Erskine's question, Minister Murphy confirmed that his officials have been in contact with BT and met with senior management yesterday (Wednesday). 

"I appreciate that the announcement of the review of the Enniskillen site will have caused great anxiety and concern for many of the 300 staff who work there," Minister Murphy said.

"BT, however, has stressed that no decision has yet been taken on the future of the site.

"Invest NI will work closely with the company over the coming weeks and explore all opportunities to influence a positive outcome for the staff who may be impacted by any decision taken."

In response, Mrs. Erskine said: "Potentially losing 300 jobs from Enniskillen is hugely significant to my constituency, given the large proportion of workers employed by BT Group in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

"Will he [Minister Murphy] commit to doing everything possible to stop those job losses?

"For example, if BT needs smaller premises as part of its consolidation, will he continue to work with Invest NI and other bodies to find such premises and make sure that BT Group remains part of the local economy in Enniskillen?"

Mr. Murphy said that while the outcome of the review wasn't yet known, it raised "very significant concerns".

"As a rural dweller and a Border dweller, I get the urgency around the matter," he said.

"This is part of an estate review, so I am not aware that it is a search for a different type of premises.

"Rather, it is a global exercise that BT has undertaken concerning its operations and its estate. 

"We will, of course, endeavour to do all that we can to ensure that jobs are kept in Enniskillen and that those people who may, at some future date, become subject to a decision taken here, get all the support that they can.

"In the first instance, however, the priority is to ensure that jobs are kept where they are needed."

UUP MLA Tom Elliot then asked the Minister if BT had investment plans set for Belfast, as opposed to rural areas like Enniskillen. 

"The BT announcement stated that it had invested with 'brilliant new and refurbished buildings'.

"Has the Minister any idea where those 'brilliant refurbished buildings' are? Are they only in Belfast or are they in other rural areas?

"Why did BT not invest in Enniskillen? I know that it is difficult for the Minister to answer at this stage.

"I just wonder whether he has any idea, or whether he will pose the question to BT?"

Minister Murphy said that he was again "hamstrung" by the fact he was speaking on a review rather than an announcement of job losses. 

"I am not aware of what estate BT is looking at currently, other than that it is part of a global review of its operations and estate," he said.

Sinn Féin MLA, Áine Murphy, spoke of her "serious concerns at the recent news of possible job losses".

"This will have a detrimental impact on families and the local economy in County Fermanagh," Ms. Murphy said.

"Will your departmental officials consult with BT to protect workers at this deeply concerning time?"

Minister Murphy responded: "Yes, they have been doing that, and will continue to do so.

"I appreciate that potential job losses anywhere are to be regretted, but, in areas that do not have a good level of investment, such as the rural west, it is a matter of particular concern for entire communities."