Energy firm plans to make 2,600 redundant – union must not accept attacks

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Carl Harper, Socialist Party Cambridgeshire

OVO Energy has announced plans to make 2,600 workers redundant, including workers in Cambridgeshire.

Some workers found out through the TV or radio that they were at risk of losing their job.

The statement from the GMB union informed workers that the GMB had unsuccessfully worked “behind the scenes” and had reached “the end of the road on attempts at a rescue package”. The union said it would “seek workers’ views” on the announcement!

One worker, who worked as an SSE employee before it was taken over by OVO, told us: “They (the union) have given up fighting. It sounds like the company wants all customer services gone and automated. But I doubt they have informed customers of this. It seems they want us working as self-employed because then they will give us no benefits. And when work dries up, or we’re not needed as much, they can tell you you’re not needed”.

And despite SSE workers being told during the OVO takeover that jobs were safe, the worker said that “they’re doing something like this every couple of months, I’m sick of it”.

This is clear opportunism by OVO, blaming the Covid-19 pandemic to cut jobs and workers terms and conditions. Throughout the crisis customers will still be paying energy bills, and it is unlikely that any reduction in services, such as customer services, will be reflected in a reduction of those bills.

It is disappointing that the union has chosen to ‘work behind the scenes’ and allowed threats to workers’ livelihoods to be ‘leaked’ to the media without workers’ knowledge, rather than tap into the anger clearly felt by workers, organising action in defence of jobs. Workers need to put pressure on the union to fight.

We need to bring the energy industry into public ownership, run under democratic workers’ control and management. This would bring security to the workers currently exposed to the chaos and cruelty of ‘the market’. A socialist plan of production would also enable workers, trade unions and service users

to decide how best to run the company in a way that battles the environmental and climate crisis, and end the ‘fuel poverty’ experienced by the poorest in society.