EDF Energy will become ‘a soft touch’ for electricity theft if it cuts its revenue protection staff by 50 per cent, Unite, the country’s largest union, has warned.
EDF Energy is planning 6,000 staff cuts worldwide and, as part of this process, the 43-strong revenue protection team in London is expected to be reduced by half – however, the union believes that this axe will be replicated across the rest of the UK.
Unite has had no confirmation of the global job cuts which have been reported in the French media. However, it is expected that 700-1,000 jobs could be at risk in the UK.
Unite said that it would be reporting EDF Energy to the industry regulator, Ofgem as the only major supplier that that does not bill its customers for stolen electricity, which the union estimates, loses the French-owned company £3 million-a-year in London alone.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “EDF is set to become a ‘soft touch’ for electricity fraud. The revenue protection team identifies electricity fraud - when landlords, business owners or individuals tamper with meters so that they get free electricity.
“There are 43 staff on this London team and the company wants to reduce it by 50 per cent – an early Easter present for electricity thieves, which is a criminal offence. The members working in the section estimate, by the cases they know of, that the total ‘write off’ of stolen electricity in the London region is about £6 million over two years.
“To put that figure into context, the £6 million is only what was discovered. Ofgem estimates that across the six big utility companies, the amount of stolen electricity is £200 million-a-year.
“Our members estimate that about £30 million of this is from EDF Energy. What this shows is that EDF only discovers a tiny proportion of the thefts - yet it is cutting the very team that can staunch this tidal wave of stolen electricity.
“Energy companies are legally obliged to bill customers. Yet, EDF does not bill customers for the stolen energy when that customer is caught and convicted. All other companies do. We will be reporting this to Ofgem to take firm action against EDF’s lackadaisical attitude to electricity theft.
“Meanwhile energy bills have gone through the roof and there are an estimated 43,000 deaths each year from fuel poverty. The criminals make hay; while the poor struggle to keep warm and the lights on. It is a scandal.”
Unite is embroiled in a long-running dispute with EDF Energy involving workers carrying out Smart meter installations which saw 70 staff striking for a week last month. The main sticking point is the requirement to work regular evenings and weekends as part of the installation programme. No progress was made on this issue at talks yesterday.
The proposals could affect the working conditions of nearly 500 staff across London, and southern and western England.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite regional officer Onay Kasab on 07771 818637 and/or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.