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ENERGY unions blasted bosses at blundering firm Ovo today after the gas and electricity provider told staff it plans to slash the size of its workforce by nearly a third.
Between 1,700 and 2,000 staff are thought to be at risk, out of a total of 6,200 workers, as part of emergency plans to deal with soaring wholesale gas prices.
The crisis has already seen more than 20 small energy firms go bust.
Unite, which stressed it would do “everything in its power” to defend members’ jobs, reminded Ovo that the union had warned against the company’s takeover of energy giant SSE’s retail base in early 2020.
The deal, which saw the firm’s annual turnover skyrocket from £1.45 billion to £4.46bn, was criticised by the union at the time as a risky move which could jeopardise its future.
In response to the jobs cuts, general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Every option will be on the table. As a first step the company must now open the books to union experts.
“We will not sit by and watch our members being made to pay the price of the pandemic.”
Ovo, created in 2007 when the energy market was diversified, had to apologise earlier this week after customers were advised to keep heating bills low by “having a cuddle with your pets,” eating porridge and doing star jumps.
Unison’s head of energy Matt Lay said: “Instead of worrying about star jumps, porridge and cat cuddles, Ovo bosses should have been spending time on the issues that matter.
“But the government isn’t without blame. Its hands-off approach to energy regulation has been disastrous.
“Ministers need to roll up their sleeves and get involved before the UK’s entire energy sector goes under.”
GMB’s national officer Gary Carter also criticised Tory ministers who had “stood back and done nothing to address the energy crisis for which we are all paying the price.”
He added that the redundancies are a “new year kick-in-the-teeth for employees who have seen the company through Covid and who have faced increased call volumes and stress caused by the energy crisis.
“At a time when more than 20 energy companies have gone to the wall and customers are looking to other providers for their energy needs, this looks like the wrong time to cut jobs.”
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