‘Disappointment’ as OVO Energy fails to give answers over job losses

Politicians said they were no closer to understanding the exact impact of the closure of the company's Perth base.

‘Disappointment’ as OVO Energy fails to give answers over job losses STV News
It is understood around 700 people work at the Perth office, where Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) is also based.

Politicians have been left “extremely disappointed” after OVO Energy failed to give a “satisfactory answer” on whether 1700 employees will lose their jobs.

Members of Parliament met virtually with company bosses on Friday morning after it announced plans to cut a quarter of its workforce.

OVO Energy is set to close its base in Inveralmond in Perth, with offices in Edinburgh, Cumbernauld and Dunfermline also affected.

“I am extremely disappointed with the lack of clarity that was provided in today’s meeting with OVO officials,” said Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire.

“Despite several attempts, we are still no closer to understanding what exactly the closure of OVO’s Perth office means for job losses.”

It is understood around 700 people work at the Perth office, where Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) is also based.

Deputy first minister and MSP for Perthshire North, John Swinney, said he remained concerned following the meeting with Adrian Letts, CEO of OVO’s retail energy business.

“Despite our repeated attempts to seek clarity, OVO did not provide a satisfactory answer on whether compulsory redundancies would be implemented if 1700 employees did not accept the offer of voluntary redundancy”, he said.

“It is very unsatisfactory that OVO are either unwilling or unable to share with us basic information regarding any potential escalation of a voluntary redundancy scheme.”

The SNP politicians said they were angry after OVO promised to increase the workforce and protect jobs when it took over from SSE two years ago.

“I am hugely disappointed that OVO founder and chief executive, Stephen Fitzpatrick, did not make himself available to answer serious questions about the planned closure of the Perth office,” said Jim Fairlie, MSP for Perthshire South and Kinross-shire.

“When OVO first bought SSE Retail, they talked a good game in relation to their relationship with their workforce, but that was not particularly evident at our meeting.”

The SNP politicians said they wanted clarity on the number of redundancies planned and the timescale for the closure.

A subsequent meeting has been agreed for early February, once OVO has “a better understanding of the uptake of the voluntary redundancy programme”.

Conservative MSPs Murdo Fraser and Liz Smith are meeting with the energy company to discuss the planned closure later on Friday.

Fraser previously called on OVO to look into the possibility of allowing some of its Perth staff to work remotely from home rather than face being made redundant.

A OVO Energy spokesperson said: “Scotland is a great place for our business, which is why we’re making it an operational centre of excellence, and one of our three office locations.

“We are opening a new OVO Academy in Glasgow, creating opportunities in the city that hosted COP26, for those who want to be at the forefront of the UK’s green revolution.

“While we’re closing some of our offices, there is an opportunity for remote working. The pandemic has changed the way we work, and many of our offices are underused with people already working remotely.

“We’re committed to investing in Scotland; creating higher skilled, better paid jobs in Scotland.”