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OVO job cuts: ‘Real anger’ in Perth as energy boss set for government talks on Wednesday

Workers are anxious about their jobs ahead of a crisis meeting between OVO Energy and the Scottish Government over plans to cut 1,700 jobs and shut a major base in Perth.

The energy company last week said it will be closing its office in the city, where it employs around 700 people, as well as offices in Dunfermline and Cumbernauld.

It comes after the company bought over SSE’s retail arm in January 2020 and promised there would be no job losses.

They went on to make more than 2,000 people redundant four months later, blaming the pandemic.

The SNP Government’s business minister is due to meet Adrian Letts, CEO of OVO’s retail business, on Wednesday to discuss the redundancies and what support will be offered to those affected.

OVO sees workforce as ‘dispensable’

Ivan McKee, minister for business, trade, tourism and enterprise, will be at the meeting, as well as local MSPs John Swinney – who is also deputy first minister – and Jim Fairlie.

Mr Fairlie last week demanded OVO Energy’s CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick attend this meeting himself to personally answer their questions.

Jim Fairlie, MSP for Perthshire South and Kinross-shire

Speaking in Holyrood, he said: “When OVO agreed to acquire SSE’s retail arm, its chief executive said SSE and OVO was a great fit because of their shared values on sustainability, serving customers, and building its excellent team, and now they are dismantling this excellent team.

“Does that mean OVO sees its workforce as dispensable?”

Murdo Fraser, Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, added: “There is real anger in Perth.

“This is a move by OVO who two years ago said they were committed to maintaining a presence in the city.”

Calls to overturn decision

Cabinet minister Mr McKee says he will try and persuade OVO to overturn their decision to make 1,700 employees redundant and close the Perth office.

Mr Fraser also asked the minister to find out whether or not employees can be retained if they agree to work from home after the office is shut down.

Murdo Fraser, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife

The minister says he will bring this up during the meeting, saying this should be a “very realistic and practical possibility” because of people’s changing work habits during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr McKee added: “This will be a very anxious time for employees, their families and the local area.

“I have an urgent meeting tomorrow with Adrian Letts to seek clarity on this impact on Scotland.

“This doesn’t seem to be the right decision for employees, communities or OVO Energy to move away from such a valued workforce.

“I will impress upon them the importance of the situation and encourage them to review their decision.”

Mark Ruskell, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, also asked if companies such as OVO can expect to see consequences if they are found to have broken the Scottish Government’s fair work agenda.

Mr McKee says this is also something that needs to be explored, and says he will meet with the “relevant people” to discuss this in the days and weeks to come.

OVO Perth and Dunfermline closure: Everything we know so far as energy giant axes offices and cuts jobs

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