News : North East Job Losses Feared as npower Cuts 900 Posts
Sunderland, UK, Feb, 2019 -- Energy provider npower is aiming to cut up to 900 posts in a programme that is expected to see big job losses in the North East.
The German-owned firm, which employs 6,300 workers in the UK, said it was having to reduce its operating costs in response to the "extremely tough" UK retail energy market.
The company has a big call centre at Rainton Bridge, near Sunderland, but it hopes actual redundancies will be "considerably lower" because of the number of employees who leave every year.
Chief executive Paul Coffey said the retail energy market was "incredibly tough".
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He added: "Ofgem itself forecasts that five of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies will make a loss or less than normal profits this year due to the implementation of the price cap, and with several recent failures of new energy suppliers, it is clear that many have been pricing at levels that are not sustainable.
"Even with these reductions, we still forecast significant losses this year, but we’re doing everything we can to minimise them whilst continuing to focus on service and value for our customers."
Unions will be fully consulted over the proposals, starting in early February, said npower.
Earlier this month Ofgem, the energy watchdog, introduced a cap on the prices of energy bills for customers on standard variable tariffs, which customers are automatically moved to after deals finish.
The company highlighted the price cap, and "intense competition" on fixed-price tariffs.
Unite national officer Peter McIntosh said it was "shocking news", adding: "We will be seeking an urgent meeting with management to examine the business rationalise behind this announcement. We don’t believe that these job losses are solely down to Ofgem’s price cap."
Laura Gatiss, GMB Northern regional organiser, said: "The GMB is on record as saying that Ofgem should be abolished and its regulatory functions are taken over by the government itself, making its regulatory role subject to scrutiny and accountable to Parliament with the powers to cap prices. However what we have with this announcement by Npower is a kick in the teeth for the workforce many of whom are GMB members.
"It is only a few short years ago that Npower offshored customer relations work and in the process closed sites in the North East and rationalised work around Rainton Bridge in Houghton-le-Spring. The company then after a period of time, brought that work back into the UK when that strategic decision clearly had not worked".
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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npower is one of Britain’s largest energy suppliers and supplies gas, electricity and related services to 6.6 million customers across the UK.
Published: Monday, February 4, 2019