Energy giant SSE is planning to cut more than 400 jobs in its retail sector covering smart meter installation because of a lack of take-up for the devices from consumers, according to a union.
Unite called on the Government to step up campaigns on the benefits of smart meters in the wake of the company’s plans to axe 444 jobs.
National officer Peter McIntosh said the announcement was disappointing but not unexpected.
“Unite will oppose any attempts by the company to introduce compulsory redundancies.
“Demand for smart meters to be fitted in households has not reached the levels expected by the company – hence the job losses announced by the SSE retail sector.
“This situation is as a result of yet another failed government policy.
“The smart metering programme should not have been left to the energy companies, as the 2020 deadline looms for every home in Britain to be offered a smart meter.
“It is clear that the government message on smart metering is not cutting through to the public.”
Tony Keeling, chief operating officer and co-head of retail at SSE Energy Services, said: “Like a number of suppliers, we are facing challenges due to competition increasing, the introduction of the energy price cap and higher operating costs.
“To run a sustainable business, we need to become more efficient and ensure we have the right number of employees in the right locations to best serve our customers.
“We are committed to engaging and consulting openly and transparently with colleagues, our trade union partners and appropriate employee representatives and have today announced voluntary enhanced redundancy opportunities for some of our customer service and metering teams.”
Smart Energy GB, which promotes smart meters, refuted the claim that the campaign has not activated consumers, saying that 13 million people will seek out or accept a smart meter in the next six months.
Director of corporate affairs Robert Cheesewright said: “Smart meters are fundamental in helping Great Britain create a truly smart grid that will help us meet our carbon reduction targets, improve air quality and help households eliminate energy waste.
“Smart Energy GB’s campaign has been an overwhelming success in driving demand for smart meters. Research from March 2019 shows near universal knowledge of the new technology, over 14 million smart meters installed and a further 13 million people who would seek out or accept an upgrade in the next six months.”