(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Thur, 13th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –
Ovo Energy, the UK gas and electricity provider, has told staff it plans to cut a quarter of its workforce.
The firm is expected to axe 1,700 employees from a total 6,200 workers.
The cuts, first reported by Sky News, are understood to be linked to its acquisition of SSE three years ago and the integration of the firm into Ovo.
It is understood the cuts will be made through voluntary redundancy. Ovo has also told staff it will raise minimum pay across the firm to £12 an hour.
Unite, the union, said it had warned in 2020 about Ovo's takeover of SSE's retail business and the possible impact on jobs.
On Thursday, Unite's general secretary Sharon Graham said: “We will do everything in our power to defend our members' jobs.
“We will not sit by and watch our members being made to pay the price of the pandemic.”
The job cuts come just days after Ovo was forced to apologise for telling customers to cuddle their pets to keep warm.
Ovo Energy's chief executive Stephen Fitzpatrick blamed a “bad day” for “ridiculous” advice to customers on how to stay warm amid soaring energy bills.
The cuts are understood to relate to the SSE deal.
However, the energy sector has been struggling with higher wholesale gas prices since last September and the UK's price cap for households means firms have been unable to pass on the rising costs to retail customers.
It has led to more than 20 smaller energy businesses going bust.
Regardless of the cap, households are set to see a significant rise in energy costs this year when the regulator Ofgem reviews the ceiling on gas and electricity bills.
Mr Fitzpatrick has been lobbying the government to help reduce a rise in bills which would come into force in April. He has said that the rise in wholesale gas prices and its impact on people will be “an enormous crisis for 2022”.
On Wednesday, however, his company Ovo offered slightly more controversial guidance on how to cut bills to SSE Energy customers – suggesting they do “a few star jumps” or hug a pet “to stay cosy”.
Mr Fitzpatrick said he was sorry and was “really embarrassed” by the “ridiculous” advice emailed to customers on “simple and cost-effective ways to keep warm this winter”.
“We're a large company and somebody had a bad day,” he said.
The guidance has since been removed from the website.