Bristol Energy staff feel “betrayed” by Mayor over “broken promises” as redundancies loom

Staff facing job losses at Bristol Energy say that they feel “betrayed” by Mayor Marvin Rees over his Council’s handling of the energy company’s sale, says UNISON.

In September of this year, a deal was announced to sell the majority of Bristol Energy’s operations to Together Energy. At the time, Bristol Council claimed this was guaranteeing the jobs of frontline workers and Mayor Rees publicly vowed to help Bristol Energy employees.

Energy staff have now revealed their disappointment and dismay with the Mayor’s role in the treatment of local residents working for the energy provider, particularly around job losses and the lack of recognition for their trade union, UNISON.

With just a week until the transfer to Together Energy takes place, staff are still in the dark as to what will happen to their jobs. The staff, who are also local Bristol residents, are calling on their Mayor to sit down with them and to make good on the promises he made.

Hugh Cavanagh, who works for Bristol Energy and is the UNISON workplace representative said:

“Staff feel betrayed and let down over the Mayor’s broken promises. Despite the his warm words, there are still fifty of us who are facing redundancy during a global pandemic and recession. Worse still, the Mayor has made clear that some colleagues face being made redundant without a single penny in redundancy pay to support them and their families, while others will get the absolute legal minimum the Council can get away with. We’re Bristol residents, but the Mayor has consistently ignored our needs and shirked responsibility for the Council’s poor management of Bristol Energy that’s put us in this position.

“We’ve repeatedly written to Marvin asking him to meet with us, but he won’t. We just want him to come out of hiding and do the right thing by his residents and employees.”

Erika Kenny, who also works for Bristol Energy in Customer Care, said:

“It’s been an incredibly stressful few months and I’m glad we’ve been able to support each other and secure some protections through our trade union, UNISON.

“We were promised a union “recognition” agreement months ago to help protect our jobs, pay and working conditions in the future, and Bristol Energy’s board signed off on it. But despite all the promises, it’s not happened, and Marvin has completely ignored the issue when we’ve written directly to him.

“The Mayor and his team are pretending our welfare is out of their control, but the Bristol Energy website literally says that we’re “a company controlled by Bristol City Council”! It feels like they’re washing their hands of us, while pretending in public to have our backs.”

Charlotte Alder, an Operations Manager for Bristol Energy, said:

“Many ordinary staff are understandably upset and worried by the situation, but a lot of us felt even more let down when news broke that the last Bristol Energy Managing Director was paid more than £320,000 last year, including £90,000 when he left, and that his replacement got given almost £34,000 in March alone.

“There appears to be plenty of money to waste on bosses but apparently none to help ordinary Bristol residents keep up with their rent and bills. This isn’t what we expected from a Labour Council that claims to represent ordinary workers.”