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Job Losses Grow
On 7 February the gas transmission company Transco
announced a cut of 2,400 jobs across the UK equivalent to 18%
of the workforce. This came on top of a reduction of 2500 jobs
after the 1997 OFGEM price review. However, after further probing
by UNISON the company have admitted that the real figure is 3900
job losses. This means a 35% cut in non-industrial staff - mostly
by the end of this year.
It is unclear at this stage how substantial the
impact will be on Scottish jobs. Transco employs 1000 staff in
The energy regulator Ofgem imposes these cuts.
UNISON Scotland has consistently argued that Ofgem takes a short-sighted
view of customer interest in its reviews across the industry.
They create a five year cycle in which price cuts lead to job
losses. Experienced staff leave the industry and customer service
falls. The companies respond by training new staff (850 this year)
in a desperate effort to raise standards back to the starting
point. Then the next price review kicks in and we start all over
This flawed regulatory regime requires a complete
overhaul and UNISON Scotland will be pressing Scottish MPs to
address this issue as a matter of urgency. It should also be a
warning to MSPs who are introducing a similar regime in the Scottish
The loss of both numbers of staff and in particular
experienced staff undermines the safety of both staff and the
public. In Scotland gas safety has been thrown into sharp focus
through the explosions at Larkhall and Dundee. Putting overworked
and overstressed staff with live gas is a potentially explosive
UNISON believes that the regulator Ofgem and
Transco management has lost touch with reality and we will be
seeking a meeting with the Health and Safety Executive to challenge
Transco's safety case. Ofgem will need to explain if a £5
a year saving for gas customers is worth the potential risk to
Far from minimising the impact on jobs, Transco
are proposing to retain 1000 agency staff. UNISON will ballot
its members for strike action if compulsory job losses are imposed
or safety is compromised through insufficient staff numbers.
For further information contact:
UNISON Scottish Organiser (Utilities)
14 West Campbell Street, Glasgow.
Tel: 0141 332 0006