Politicians from across the political divide are calling for a meeting with the bosses of OVO after they announced they are axing 1,700 jobs and shutting its Perth site.
The energy firm is launching a voluntary redundancy programme to slash around a quarter of its workforce, and plans to cut its offices to just three in London, Bristol and Glasgow.
So far OVO has declined to comment publicly on the news of its closure, but it is understood around 700 people are employed by the energy company in Perth.
Politicians representing the Perth area are now calling for action to be taken now to help support those affected by the announcement.
‘Disappointed’ at backtracking on promises
Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire, says he is disappointed as OVO had suggested when they took over the Perth site in January 2020 they would be investing and developing the office.
He said: “I am very concerned with this announcement from OVO and job losses on this scale will have a massive impact on the labour market in Perth.
“I know that energy firms are operating in a very challenging commercial environment just now, but we cannot forget the number of commitments that OVO made to Perth and to the former SSE workforce when they took over at Inveralmond.
“I am therefore very disappointed that instead of developing the Perth plant as they suggested they would it is to be closed down instead.
“We are trying to determine how many jobs will be lost, and where I understand that a voluntary redundancy package is to be offered, it remains to be seen whether job losses on this scale can be undertaken without compulsory redundancies emerging down the line.
“I am seeking a meeting with OVO and I hope to get clear answers as to what exactly has gone wrong.”
MSPs call for urgent meeting with OVO
Both of Perthshire’s constituency MSPs have contacted OVO to try and arrange for a meeting to find out more about exactly what is going to happen, and what support is going to be offered to those affected by the closure in the city.
Perthshire North MSP John Swinney said: “Job losses at any time can be devastating, but this is particularly true in the middle of a pandemic that is causing significant economic uncertainty.
“I am currently reaching out to OVO management in order to better understand the reasons behind this decision, and will be seeking to meet with them to discuss the potential implications for local OVO workers.
“I would ask any constituents who may be affected by today’s announcement and feel that I can offer assistance to contact my office directly.”
Very concerned to hear news from @OVOEnergy about job losses. The site in #Perth is a major employer for my constituents. I am seeking urgent dialogue with the company to seek assurances about the future of local jobs.
— John Swinney (@JohnSwinney) January 13, 2022
And Perthshire South and Kinross-shire MSP Jim Fairlie added: “OVO has been an important employer in my constituency since buying SSE’s retail arm business so this news is obviously very concerning indeed.
“It is, as yet, unclear how many of the 1,700 jobs they are seeking to cut are likely to be Perth-based, but since that number represents a quarter of their total workforce and they have indicated that they are planning to shut the Perth office it is liable to be significant.
“I am actively seeking a meeting with OVO to discuss these developments and I will do everything I can to secure the best possible outcome for my constituents.”
‘This is awful news for Perth’
The Scottish Conservatives are likewise seeking a meeting with OVO bosses and are calling on the Scottish Government to step in and help Perth employees as well.
Murdo Fraser, who represents Mid Scotland and Fife, said: “This is a massive jobs blow for Perth and I am very concerned to hear this announcement.
“It sounds like OVO have broken their pledge to have a presence in Perth, after SSE having such a long association with the city.
“We have been told by OVO that there are around 700 staff at their site in Perth, so it is obviously a very worrying time for them.
“OVO has said they will operate voluntary redundancies and that staff will either be allocated to the three remaining sites – a new hub in Glasgow, Bristol or London – if they live within 30 miles of one of these.
Very concerned to hear today that @OVOEnergy plan to close their office in Perth this year. It is a major local employer and this will be a substantial blow to the Perthshire economy.
— Murdo Fraser (@murdo_fraser) January 13, 2022
“However, Perth staff won’t be able to move to any of these sites, so we will be asking the Scottish Government what support they will be offering to the OVO employees in Perth.”
Fellow Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Liz Smith added: “This is awful news for Perth and for OVO staff who work there.
“It is undoubtedly a major jobs blow for the city.
“The company should be doing all they can to support its workforce and I am sad to hear they are launching a voluntary redundancy scheme.”