The energy firm forced to apologise after telling people to ‘have a cuddle with their pets to stay cosy’ is set to axe 1,700 jobs, unions fear.
OVO Energy, Britain’s third largest energy supplier, is expected to make an announcement today.
Around a quarter of its 6,200 employees could be handed their P45 as part of a voluntary redundancy programme.
The job cuts – an attempt to restructure the company in a bid to save cash – have been branded a ‘New Year kick in the teeth’ for hard-working employees who have faced increased stress during the pandemic.
It comes as energy prices skyrocket, putting the industry in crisis.
General secretary Sharon Graham vowed to do ‘everything in our power to defend our members’ jobs.’
‘All and every option will be on the table,’ Ms Graham said.
‘As a first step the company must now open the books to union experts.
“We will not sit by and watch our members being made to pay the price of the pandemic.’
OVO sparked fury after sending what has now been described as a ‘poorly judged’ blog to customers with 10 ‘simple and cost-effective ways’ to keep heating bills low.
The ‘ludicrous’ recommendations to stay warm this winter included avoiding chilli as ‘it makes you sweat’, eating porridge, cleaning the house and doing star jumps.
The Bristol-based company said it was ’embarrassed’ by the blog content and ‘sincerely apologised’.
Unite union said it urged the Bristol-based company to be careful when it took control of the retail base of energy giant, SSE, in 2020.
The union’s national energy officer, Simon Coop, said: ‘We warned the directors about blundering into the SSE takeover.
‘In recent years the same directors have plundered the accounts for amounts estimated to be touching £5 million.
‘OVO must be subject to severe scrutiny before the union decides on our next moves, but if they move to compulsory redundancies they will be fully opposed by the union.’
Meanwhile GMB union national officer Gary Carter said: ‘This is a New Year kick in the teeth for employees who have seen the company through Covid and faced increased call volumes and stress caused by the energy crisis.
‘At a time when more than 20 energy companies have gone to the wall and customers are looking to other providers for their energy needs, this looks like the wrong time to cut jobs.
‘Customer numbers are increasing in those companies left in the energy retail sector.’
And Mr Carter blasted the government for ‘standing back and doing nothing’ to address the problem.
‘We are all paying the price,’ he added.
It comes as Age UK demanded immediate action from ministers amid fears ‘astronomical’ energy price rises could see millions plunge into fuel poverty.
The charity revealed older people are showering less and avoiding using their ovens, instead living on soup and sandwiches, over energy bill concerns.
Metro.co.uk has contacted OVO Energy for further comment.
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