Concerns have been raised over the ongoing lack of clarity from energy-company Ovo as hundreds of jobs hang in the balance at SSE in Perth.
Ovo Energy announced last month it would be making thousands of UK staff redundant this year, despite promising there would be no lay-offs when they acquired SSE in January.
Five weeks since the shock announcement Stephen Fitzpatrick, Ovo chief executive, remains unable to say how many jobs will be lost from the Perth branch or for how long the company is keeping its voluntary redundancy programme open.
Around 950 people are employed by SSE in Perth, out of 2,200 staff in Scotland. Ovo is looking at making 1,000 lay-offs from its Scottis offices, around 80% of which will come from SSE.
However the firm has stated the Perth office will remain open and it hopes to achieve the losses through voluntary packages.
Ovo has blamed the redundancies on changing consumer behaviour, with more customers moving to digital and online channels during the coronavirus outbreak.
However The Courier understands employees are worried customers are being directed towards these avenues by the company, accelerating the redundancy drive.
Upon phoning SSE, a pre-recorded voice message tells customers they are “prioritising customers in emergency or vulnerable situations or those that are experiencing financial difficulties”.
The message then directs customers who do not fall into these brackets to use their website or app.
Pete Wishart, SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire, is seeking further meetings with Mr Fitzpatrick this week.
Mr Wishart said: “I remain very concerned about the lack of clarity from OVO regarding potential job losses at the Perth office.
“Over a month since the initial announcement, staff still have little certainty over what the overall impact on the Perth site will be.
“I understand that the way that a number of customers engage with companies such as energy providers is changing to be much more online focused.
“Nevertheless, it is imperative that this is driven by customer demand and not forced on them by companies.”
A spokesperson for Ovo told The Courier SSE had more than 1 million online transactions in April and saw a 69% drop in in home service engineering work and a 92% reduction in smart meter installations.
“During this pandemic our priority is to protect our most vulnerable customers and to support those who are worried about their energy bills.
“We are encouraging all customers to help us free up our phone lines for our most vulnerable customers and those self isolating.
“This is a voluntary redundancy programme so we are not looking to make any compulsory redundancies. We believe we will receive enough applications.
“At the moment we can’t give exact timings on applications, as we are still in consultation with our staff.”
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