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Utilities News
Energy Home | Utilities News Index

Transco Job Losses Grow
February 2002

Jobs

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 Scotland.

Ofgem

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 again.

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 water industry.

Safety

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 mix.

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 life.

Industrial Action

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:

Dave Watson
UNISON Scottish Organiser (Utilities)
14 West Campbell Street, Glasgow.
d.watson@unison.co.uk
Tel: 0141 332 0006