Centrica, the company which owns British Gas, has announced plans to cut 850 jobs as part of a cost-savings drive that could see further attacks for its 34,000 employees.
Reduced energy use by homes and business during an unusually hot autumn is being blamed by Centrica for the cuts, but although its takings fell its operating profit for 2011 was still nearly £2.5 billion. Its North Sea oil and gas operation could be next in line for the chop after the initial 850 redundancies.
Mike Jeram, head of Business and Environment at the trade union Unison, said:
“This is seriously bad news on the day that the latest unemployment figures are announced and we learn that more than one million young people are now desperate for jobs.
“These 850 job losses come on top of the 270 British Gas is making in other business streams, so the true total stands at more than 1,100. British Gas claims these cuts won’t harm customer service, but we will challenge them very hard to demonstrate exactly how they will guarantee to maintain decent levels of service, while axing this number of staff.
“In the face of recent price increases, customers will be very sceptical about the company’s claims that standards won’t be hit.”