News Release from John Swinney MSP, Jim Fairlie MSP and Pete Wishart MP
Attn: News Desk For immediate release 21 January 2021
Perthshire politicians meet with OVO
Perthshire North MSP, Mr John Swinney, Perthshire South and Kinross-shire MSP, Mr Jim Fairlie, and Perth and North Perthshire MP, Mr Pete Wishart, have today met virtually with Adrian Letts, Retail CEO of OVO Energy Ltd.
The meeting took place following OVO Energy’s announcement of a voluntary redundancy programme for 1700 employees, along with the closure of their Perth office site.
Following the meeting, Mr Swinney said: “I remain very concerned by the proposals put forward by OVO.
“Despite our repeated attempts to seek clarity, OVO did not provide a satisfactory answer on whether compulsory redundancies would be implemented if 1700 employees did not accept the offer of voluntary redundancy.
“OVO have assured us that they will be in a position to provide further clarification on this point in early February, once they have a better understanding of the uptake of the voluntary redundancy programme. Accordingly, we have agreed to meet with OVO management in the first week of February to obtain answers to these vital questions.
“It is very unsatisfactory that OVO are either unwilling or unable to share with us basic information regarding any potential escalation of a voluntary redundancy scheme. A well-thought-out business proposal would account for the fact that there may not be a full uptake of the voluntary redundancy proposal within the workforce, and would therefore have contingency plans in place for this eventuality.
“In the interim, I will continue to liaise with Unite, and would ask that any constituents with specific concerns reach out to my office directly.”
Mr Fairlie added: “I am hugely disappointed that OVO Founder and Chief Executive, Stephen Fitzpatrick, did not make himself available to answer serious questions about the planned closure of the Perth office. When OVO
first bought SSE Retail, they talked a good game in relation to their relationship with their workforce, but that was not particularly evident at our meeting.
“I questioned OVO on their commitment to Perth, and asked them if they had considered basing their new national hub here, but it would appear that they failed to give consideration to Perth as their Scottish base.
“I sincerely hope that Stephen Fitzpatrick will attend our meeting in early February, when more is known about the numbers of staff who wish to consider voluntary redundancy. A failure to come forward and answer the most basic questions about his business would be a real slap in the face to the workforce.”
Mr Wishart added: “I am extremely disappointed with the lack of clarity that was provided in today’s meeting with OVO officials. Despite several attempts, we are still no closer to understanding what exactly the closure of OVO’s Perth office means for job losses.
“OVO have stated that they are seeking 1,700 redundancies across the UK, with their Perth office holding around 700 staff. However, they were unable to confirm whether or not they would need to pursue compulsory redundancies should a small number of staff opt to leave their positions voluntarily.
“At the heart of this issue is my commitment to ensuring economic viability in my constituency. As OVO is one of Perth's largest private employers, it is absolutely critical that they provide further clarity about the employment security of their Perth-based staff, and that they do so quickly. “
A subsequent meeting has been agreed for early February. Details of this meeting will be released in the near future.