Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1030/28725

From The Socialist newspaper, 20 February 2019

Energy retail firm collapse hits Tyneside

Utilitywise employs 1,000 workers, photo by Oliver Dixon/CC

Utilitywise employs 1,000 workers, photo by Oliver Dixon/CC   (Click to enlarge)

William Jarrett, North Tyneside Socialist Party

Already reeling from numerous national and local collapses of businesses today fresh blows were rained down on Tyneside's struggling workforce. Utilitywise PLC is a firm which sells energy on a second-hand basis following speculation of prices. Initially based in South Shields the company relocated across the Tyne to North Shields in an ironic cost-cutting exercise, taking up new quarters at Cobalt Business Park which caused significant disruption for many staff.

Following months of communication with Utilitywise staff it became clear to Socialist Party members in North Tyneside that the firm was transitioning from danger to imminent demise. This deterioration arrived as no surprise based on what employees shared with us. High-pressure selling, reckless management, a an 'in' clique and hard-partying culture encouraged by bosses, and totally inappropriate managerial gambles on the corporate roulette wheel made Utilitywise a ticking timebomb.

While CEO Brendan Flattery was in hiding somewhere at the facility, it was director Chris Blench who was left with the unenviable task of informing the 1,000 strong workforce of the terrible news that not only were they being made redundant, but that they would receive no commission or wage payments for February. Incredibly though Blench insisted workers should continue to work as normal, implying they could turn the situation around! One worker fell to the floor and suffered a seizure. Chaotic scenes were described of angry workers confronting Flattery, and one expecting mother told me the situation was risking her already-hazardous pregnancy.

The estimated £31 million of debt accrued by Utilitywise was pushed over the edge with the recent announcement that a deal had gone sour, adding another £7.6 million loss resulting underestimating consumption in its contracts, which the firm attributed to ''exceptional costs''. Trading was suspended after banks refused to lend an additional £10 million to keep the company solvent, and we're told FTI Consultants administrators were snuck in to the facility after business hours.

Tyneside's proud tradition of trade union struggle has resulted in many victories across the area, with Socialist Party activists standing in solidarity with workers engaged in struggle. What's remarkable about Utilitywise is that such a large company had such low trade union membership density. There are lessons to be drawn from this, and opportunities for the Communication Workers' Union and other unions committed to growing in the increasingly diverse telecommunication sector it traditionally serves. The Socialist Party says that energy and all its constituent sectoral components belong in public hands, owned and operated by and for workers and service users. Only the rational planning of resources is capable of preventing the type of catastrophic situation unfolding across the North East in the wake of Utilitywise's wholly preventable demise.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 20 February 2019:


News

Nationalise Airbus and other manufacturing plants to save jobs now!

NHS crisis deepens: Workers' and community action can save our health service

What we heard

What we saw


Youth climate strikes

"There's no planet B": Thousands of youth strike against climate change - we need socialist change!

Youth strike for the climate reports: "There's no planet B"


Opinion

TV: Les Misérables - Hugo's novel and this adaptation both offer a message of hope

The Socialist Inbox


What we think

Eight Blairites split - Now kick out the rest


Workplace news

PCS Left Unity must unite on pay and elections

Universal Credit staff ballot for action

Annoyed?! I'm annoyed to be on poverty wages

Nationalise to save jobs at Honda!

Birmingham bin strike against 'blacklisting'

Deliveroo riders strike against exploitative pay and conditions

Leicester college pay strike goes on

Cardiff Uni: urgent action needed to stop job cuts

Hackney: Unite fights racism and victimisation

Harrowing accounts of austerity at Unison women's conference

Unite GLL pay campaign


International socialist news and analysis

Spanish state: social polarisation and budget defeat force snap election


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Unite union London council workers back Enfield Labour no-cuts call

Leeds TUC presents a no-cuts alternative budget

Socialist Students conference shows potential for fighting leadership

London housing campaigners disrupt auction

Birmingham Uni: Standing up to racism is not harassment!

Leicester Socialists stand against Blairite mayor

Lincoln students back UCU ballot

Leicestershire needs NHS beds

Claimants and union slam Universal Credit

Energy retail firm collapse hits Tyneside


World economy

New recession fear stalks the world economy


 

Home   |   The Socialist 20 February 2019   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Energy:

triangleLabour's nationalisation plan: What policies are needed to avert climate catastrophe?

triangleSocialist policies needed to halt climate disaster

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleLabour needs socialist policies to solve "climate emergency"

triangleOrganise against climate change, austerity and capitalism

Tyneside:

triangleArt exhibition: 'Unobtania' by Peter Robson

triangleImminent eviction sparks urgent defence campaign

triangleNorth Tyneside: march to save our footbridge

Retail:

triangleUnited on need for fightback - now keep pressure on for action

triangleUsdaw union conference demands action on pay, jobs and the right

triangleUsdaw ADM 2019

Workers:

triangleWarning lights flashing for Corbynism

triangleHome carers victory

Socialist Party:

triangleOpinion: socialists must link climate struggle to power of organised workers

Socialist:

triangleSave steel jobs: Demand socialist nationalisation

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

24/5/19

Steel

Save steel jobs: Demand socialist nationalisation

23/5/19

Schools

4 June - Walk out against Trump! Climate criminal not welcome

22/5/19

Probation

Workers celebrate renationalisation

22/5/19

Birmingham

Home carers victory

22/5/19

Morrisons

Morrisons workers reject pay offer

22/5/19

Unite

Unite young members' conference

22/5/19

Accommodation

Domestic abuse accommodation: Tories shift - but safety is more than a bed

22/5/19

Haringey

Haringey: Socialists' stance fully vindicated

22/5/19

Devon

Anger and frustration at the establishment

22/5/19

Worcester

Worcester Tories stonewall action on climate change

22/5/19

National Education Union

Day of action against cuts to special needs education

22/5/19

Strike

Workplace news in brief

22/5/19

Woolwich

Woolwich ferry workers begin ten days of strike action

22/5/19

RMT

Fantastic RMT London Underground victory

22/5/19

Tyne and Wear

Lifting the mood

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999