First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says the Scottish Government will do “everything they possibly can” to reverse OVO Energy’s decision to axe 1,700 jobs.
Earlier this month OVO announced it is planning to make hundreds of redundancies and close down its offices in both Perth and Dunfermline.
Perthshire MSPs and MPs have since met with bosses at the energy company but say they were “disappointed” with the discussions they had.
Ms Sturgeon now says the Scottish Government will try and get this decision overturned, and says they will support anyone who is affected by the proposed redundancies.
First minister ‘really concerned’
Jim Fairlie, MSP for Perthshire South and Kinross-shire, pushed the first minister on what the government plans to do.
In response, the first minister said: “I am really concerned about the job losses at OVO.
“This is an anxious time for staff working there and their families, and an anxious time given the importance of the company to the area.
“The business minister spoke with the CEO of OVO retail last Wednesday to explore the rationale behind the decision but OVO says the voluntary redundancy has not been open for long enough.”
She added: “The business minister continues to press OVO on all relevant points and has asked they remain in contact.
“I will do everything we possibly can, if it is possible, to seek the reversal of this decision, and of course we will do everything we can to support those affected by redundancies.
“I would appeal to the company, and say it is an expectation of the company, to engage with local representatives, with the Scottish Government, and to make sure they are fully transparent to their workers and the wider community.”
Call to relocate public sector jobs
The Scottish Conservatives asked the Scottish Government if any public sector jobs can be relocated to Perth due to the large number of redundancies coming from OVO.
Murdo Fraser, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, raised this suggestion with Jamie Hepburn, minister for higher education and further education, youth employment and training.
Mr Fraser said: “During our meeting, OVO stated that they will be offering some Perth employees the opportunity to work from home as they feel flexible working is the way ahead for the firm.
“OVO then announced that they are putting together a voluntary redundancy package for staff and that details will follow.
“With this uncertainty in mind, I asked the minister for higher education if the SNP government would look at relocating public sector jobs to Perth in the event of redundancies from OVO.
“The previous Scottish Executive delivered this policy to the benefit of other areas of the country.
“The OVO site in Perth will be lying empty towards the end of this year, so it would make sense for public sector workers to be relocated there, if possible.
“I was pleased to hear the minister say it would be something the SNP government would consider looking at as this is a very worrying time for Perth OVO staff.”
He added: “OVO have pledged to support their staff by offering to reskill them or help them adjust to flexible working, but it is useful to know if the SNP government can help matters by relocating some public sector staff to Perth if there are large numbers of redundancies at OVO.”