Ovo Vitality, Britain’s second largest vitality provider, is to chop 2,600 jobs and shut workplaces because the coronavirus lockdown drives extra buyer providers on-line.
The choice comes simply 4 months after Ovo purchased SSE’s retail division for £500m, immediately growing its buyer base from 1.5m to 5m properties.
Saying the cuts on Tuesday, Ovo mentioned the Covid-19 pandemic had accelerated a shift in buyer behaviour, with extra folks logging on, which had completely decreased the necessity for some features and roles.
The job losses will have an effect on fuel engineers, electricians, meter readersand name centre employees and the corporate will shut its workplaces in Glasgow’s Waterloo Road, Selkirk and Studying. Jobs are additionally anticipated to go at workplaces in Perth, Cumbernauld and Cardiff.
About 80% of the cuts will come from the SSE enterprise. The corporate expects about 1,000 jobs might be misplaced in Scotland and roughly 1,400 in Wales and England.
The GMB union accused Ovo of betrayal, saying it had promised there could be no job losses after the takeover of SSE’s retail enterprise.
Justin Bowden, a GMB senior organiser, mentioned: “Coronavirus outbreak or not, it is a large betrayal of guarantees made to employees and politicians that the sale to Ovo wouldn’t end in job losses.
Ovo denied it had made any assurances round jobs, and mentioned the cuts could be made largely via voluntary redundancy over the course of this 12 months.
Stephen Fitzpatrick, the previous banker and Conservative donor who based Ovo and stays its chief govt, mentioned: “In the present day is a really troublesome day. What ought to have been a for much longer course of to digitise the SSE enterprise and combine it with Ovo has been accelerated as a result of influence of the coronavirus.
“We’re seeing a fast enhance in clients utilizing digital channels to interact with us, and in our expertise, as soon as clients begin to interact in a different way they don’t return. In consequence, we predict a everlasting discount in demand for some roles, while different field-based roles are additionally closely affected.”
Because the Covid-19 lockdown started, Ovo’s good meter installations have fallen 92% and residential service engineering work has dropped by 69%. Meter studying has fully stopped since March. The corporate has furloughed 3,400 employees who had been unable to do their jobs due to the pandemic, together with meter readers.
Earlier than the acquisition, SSE had moved some customer support roles to South Africa and the Philippines and had deliberate to maneuver an extra 700 jobs to South Africa, however Ovo has suspended the offshoring programme.
Bowden mentioned: “While we had been in a position to save 700 jobs from offshoring for now, that is nonetheless 2,600 good UK jobs from an organization that’s busy absorbing taxpayers’ cash from the furlough scheme. GMB says corporations who take authorities cash from the job retention scheme (JRS) needs to be prevented from making redundancies for a minimum of a 12 months.”
The Unite union’s nationwide officer for vitality and utilities, Peter McIntosh, mentioned: “That is devastating information for the loyal and devoted workforce who’ve continued to supply emergency and important providers to clients all through the Covid-19 disaster.
“We might be urgent the corporate to clarify why it’s not persevering with to reap the benefits of the federal government’s JRS which was particularly designed to cope with potential job losses attributable to the coronavirus disaster.”