UNISON calls for urgent government action after job cuts announcement follows 770% profits hike


UNISON is calling for urgent Government action, as UK Power Networks announces it is to cut 400 posts this year, 100 in 2012 and 100 in 2013.  The company – which supplies more than eight million households in London, the south-east and the east of England – also says it has further plans to shut offices.

Union officials fear the trend of job cuts will continue, on the back of redundancy plans at other companies.

In a statement, Mike Jeram, UNISON’s Head of Business and Environment, said: “This will be a devastating blow to a loyal workforce at a time of huge economic uncertainty. The energy sector is ploughing billions of pounds into renewing the infrastructure that guarantees the UK’s electricity supplies, yet cutting jobs that are necessary to run it.”

UNISON has around 500 members at UK Power Networks and it is pressing the company to avoid compulsory redundancies.

UK Power Networks was acquired last year by the Hong Kong private equity company Cheung Kong Group (CKG), owned by multi-billionaire Li Ka-shing – the territory’s richest man.  The company’s results, posted last July, showed profits from its UK infrastructure companies had leapt 770 percent to £160 million.

On Thursday, another of the UK’s “big six” energy companies, E.ON announced it planned to axe 500 jobs, a matter of days after increasing gas and electricity prices by 18% and 11% respectively.  It followed a statement by Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, who accused the industry of predatory pricing following a big hike in gas and electricity bills this autumn.

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