UNISON raises concerns over UK energy security

UNISON has raised concerns with energy company National Grid over its announcement to sell the Grain Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal, located in Kent.

National Grid is a private energy company operating in the UK and US and the largest electricity transmission and distribution business in the UK. 

The Grain LNG terminal is the UK and Europe’s largest terminal importing LNG to the country. UNISON is concerned that the decision to sell it could have a negative impact on the UK’s energy security. The union is therefore calling on the government to intervene in the decision.

UNISON head of energy Donna Rowe-Merriman said: “The announcement by US-owned National Grid fundamentally undermines UK energy security. This is a market-driven decision and not in the best interest of the UK.

“This decision leaves UK energy security vulnerable. Any decision on the future of Grain LNG and National Grid Ventures must be part of a longer-term view in relation to energy policy and security. Any sale must be a political decision taking account of the impacts on the UK’s future energy security. 

“The UK government must intervene immediately to ensure that no sale takes place before the general election.

“Ministers must act now – and not use the dissolution of Parliament as an excuse to bury their heads in the sand on important decisions of national energy security.”

The article UNISON raises concerns over UK energy security first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON raises concerns over UK energy security

UNISON has raised concerns with energy company National Grid over its announcement to sell the Grain Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal, located in Kent.

National Grid is a private energy company operating in the UK and US and the largest electricity transmission and distribution business in the UK. 

The Grain LNG terminal is the UK and Europe’s largest terminal importing LNG to the country. UNISON is concerned that the decision to sell it could have a negative impact on the UK’s energy security. The union is therefore calling on the government to intervene in the decision.

UNISON head of energy Donna Rowe-Merriman said: “The announcement by US-owned National Grid fundamentally undermines UK energy security. This is a market-driven decision and not in the best interest of the UK.

“This decision leaves UK energy security vulnerable. Any decision on the future of Grain LNG and National Grid Ventures must be part of a longer-term view in relation to energy policy and security. Any sale must be a political decision taking account of the impacts on the UK’s future energy security. 

“The UK government must intervene immediately to ensure that no sale takes place before the general election.

“Ministers must act now – and not use the dissolution of Parliament as an excuse to bury their heads in the sand on important decisions of national energy security.”

The article UNISON raises concerns over UK energy security first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Energy firm OVO release must halt job cut plans and find another solution

Responding to an announcement to staff today (Tuesday) that a further 250 jobs are at risk at energy firm OVO, UNISON head of business Donna Rowe-Merriman said:

“This is another cruel blow and staff are understandably worried about the future.

“OVO has completely failed to explain why more redundancies are even necessary. There may be many other ways to secure the future of the firm.

“Job cuts and restructuring have been coming thick and fast at the company, which suggests that things haven’t been run very well.

“Endless cuts are also bad news for customers. These job losses will take a massive toll on OVO’s ability to provide key services and give the public the human touch they expect and deserve.

“UNISON will be writing to the power regulator Ofgem to raise concerns about the company’s ability to comply with its duties.

“OVO bosses must now work with unions to find better ways forward.”

Notes to editors:
– Previous job cuts announced by OVO include more than 100 in October 2023 and upwards of 1,700 in January 2022.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk
Danny Phillips M: 07944 664110 E: d.phillips@unison.co.uk

The article Energy firm OVO release must halt job cut plans and find another solution first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Energy firm OVO must halt job cut plans and find another solution

Responding to an announcement to staff today (Tuesday) that a further 250 jobs are at risk at energy firm OVO, UNISON head of business Donna Rowe-Merriman said:

“This is another cruel blow and staff are understandably worried about the future.

“OVO has completely failed to explain why more redundancies are even necessary. There may be many other ways to secure the future of the firm.

“Job cuts and restructuring have been coming thick and fast at the company, which suggests that things haven’t been run very well.

“Endless cuts are also bad news for customers. These job losses will take a massive toll on OVO’s ability to provide key services and give the public the human touch they expect and deserve.

“UNISON will be writing to the power regulator Ofgem to raise concerns about the company’s ability to comply with its duties.

“OVO bosses must now work with unions to find better ways forward.”

Notes to editors:
– Previous job cuts announced by OVO include more than 100 in October 2023 and upwards of 1,700 in January 2022.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk
Danny Phillips M: 07944 664110 E: d.phillips@unison.co.uk

The article Energy firm OVO must halt job cut plans and find another solution first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON condemns ‘disgraceful’ approval for North Sea oil field

                                                                                                                       © Bill Kasman

UNISON today joined environmental campaigners and others in condemning the “disgraceful” go-ahead for a new oil and gas field off the coast of Shetland.

The UK’s oil and gas regulator, the North Sea Transition Authority, has granted permission to Oslo-listed Equinor and the British firm Ithaca Energy to develop the Rosebank field.

The Guardian reported that green campaigners, including Greta Thunberg, had called on the UK government to halt the development, arguing that it contravened Britain’s plan for a net zero economy.

Posting online, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas called the move “the greatest act of environmental vandalism in my lifetime”.

UNISON is standing with Stop Climate Chaos Scotland in calling for a managed phase down of oil and gas production in the North Sea, as part of a just transition for workers and communities.

And UNISON policy offer Michelle Singleton said today: “We condemn today’s disgraceful go-ahead for Rosebank.

“Despite committing to a policy of reducing oil and gas, these licences to drill for more have now been granted ­– it should be obvious you can’t reduce something by having more of it.”

Ms Singleton added that the new field would not increase the UK’s energy security, since the oil taken would likely be sold on the global market.

“Unless the government was to nationalise the fields, it will have no control over where the output goes, so it won’t necessarily come to us. And for the same reason, it will not make our energy bills cheaper.

“Plus, renewable energy is much, much, cheaper, so if the government were serious about the household price of energy it would invest more to scale up renewable options.”

The UK ought to be showing leadership on the climate issue, she added.

“Even the Tory chair of the climate change committee, Lord Deben, noted that ‘We can’t ask other people to restrain their production if we don’t do it ourselves’. Somebody must show international leadership in tackling climate change. It looks like it won’t be the UK.”

The article UNISON condemns ‘disgraceful’ approval for North Sea oil field first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON condemns ‘disgraceful’ approval for North Sea oil field

                                                                                                                       © Bill Kasman

UNISON today joined environmental campaigners and others in condemning the “disgraceful” go-ahead for a new oil and gas field off the coast of Shetland.

The UK’s oil and gas regulator, the North Sea Transition Authority, has granted permission to Oslo-listed Equinor and the British firm Ithaca Energy to develop the Rosebank field.

The Guardian reported that green campaigners, including Greta Thunberg, had called on the UK government to halt the development, arguing that it contravened Britain’s plan for a net zero economy.

Posting online, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas called the move “the greatest act of environmental vandalism in my lifetime”.

UNISON is standing with Stop Climate Chaos Scotland in calling for a managed phase down of oil and gas production in the North Sea, as part of a just transition for workers and communities.

And UNISON policy offer Michelle Singleton said today: “We condemn today’s disgraceful go-ahead for Rosebank.

“Despite committing to a policy of reducing oil and gas, these licences to drill for more have now been granted ­– it should be obvious you can’t reduce something by having more of it.”

Ms Singleton added that the new field would not increase the UK’s energy security, since the oil taken would likely be sold on the global market.

“Unless the government was to nationalise the fields, it will have no control over where the output goes, so it won’t necessarily come to us. And for the same reason, it will not make our energy bills cheaper.

“Plus, renewable energy is much, much, cheaper, so if the government were serious about the household price of energy it would invest more to scale up renewable options.”

The UK ought to be showing leadership on the climate issue, she added.

“Even the Tory chair of the climate change committee, Lord Deben, noted that ‘We can’t ask other people to restrain their production if we don’t do it ourselves’. Somebody must show international leadership in tackling climate change. It looks like it won’t be the UK.”

The article UNISON condemns ‘disgraceful’ approval for North Sea oil field first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Rosebank decision makes achieving net-zero much harder, warns UNISON

Commenting on the announcement that Rosebank, the UK’s largest untapped oil field, has been given the go-ahead by regulators, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said:

“This is yet another setback in the battle against climate change. It confirms the government‘s total lack of commitment to achieving net-zero.

“There is no guarantee the new oil will benefit the country. It’ll still need to be sold on the international market, not only to UK consumers.

“Serious investment and a proper focus on renewable energy and decarbonised gases like hydrogen is the best way to lower emissions, reduce costs and protect the planet.

“This regressive move will not reduce a single energy bill. Instead, it spells doom for future generations, and further tarnishes the UK’s global record on climate change.”

Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Fatima Ayad M: 07508 080383 E: f.ayad@unison.co.uk
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk

The article Rosebank decision makes achieving net-zero much harder, warns UNISON first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Mayor of Liverpool opens UNISON’s energy conference

Bill Esterson (left) and Steve Rotherham (right), fielding questions from delegates

UNISON’s energy conference was opened this morning in Liverpool by the region’s metro mayor, Steve Rotherham.

He spoke to delegates about the region’s efforts toward decarbonisation and greening of its economy.

He said: “Since I was elected as metro mayor we have been working together for a better, fairer greener future for the people who call this place home.

“In 2019 our area was the first to declare a climate emergency and set our carbon neutral target to 2040 a full decade ahead of wider targets.

“But let’s be clear – overcoming climate change is not something that can be accomplished by any one region, by the UK or even by Europe. It’s an existential threat on a global scale like nothing we’ve seen before.”

Mr Rotherham then spoke of a number of projects being undertaken in the region around carbon capture, tidal power, the creation of a carbon neutral London-style public transport system including hydrogen-powered buses and battery-powered trains, and the retro-fitting of domestic properties to increase the energy efficiency of thousands of homes.

These measures, he argued could “make our region a worldwide centre of excellence.” But added that it was vital that these measures can’t be privatised and must be true public services.

After Mr Rotherham spoke, Bill Esterson, Labour MP for Sefton, told delegates: “Labour is fully committed to decarbonising our economy – to making the most of the opportunities right across the low carbon energy mix, right across the decarbonisation of industry and those opportunities of reducing customer’s bills in insulation,” noting Labour’s plans to spend billions of pounds a year to insulate homes.

He continued, outlining Labour’s commitment to end the ban on onshore wind farms, to “double onshore wind, triple solar and quadruple offshore wind.”

He also emphasised that within this transition toward a green economy: “Good well-paid union jobs are a critical part of the way forward.”

Finishing his speech, he asked delegates: “Someone has to lead the world on hydrogen and green energy – why not Britain?”

Motions

After the speeches, conference debated a number of motions on topics including: managing difficult customers and nuclear power’s contribution to the security of UK energy supply and net zero.

The first of the three noted that over the past year, during the cost of living crisis, many energy customers have been placed in difficult circumstances and it is making them more stressed, anxious, and at times, angry.

Tracy Wainwright of the energy service group executive, speaking for the motion, said: “Speaking from personal experience as a call centre worker, I know the impact of having to deal with verbally abusive and emotionally manipulative customers.

“It can be shouting, screaming, swearing or customers crying or threatening suicide on the line. Staff also have to deal with racial abuse, homophobia and sexual harassment.

She noted that, as a result, rates of staff reporting declining mental health have increased.

Conference also passed a motion on the contribution of nuclear to the security of the UK energy supply and efforts to hit net zero.

After outlining the history of UNISON’s nuclear policy positions, it argued that the energy service group now needs to take a lead on this important source of electricity generation that is carbon-free and called on the SGE to draft a pro-nuclear energy policy as part of a balanced zero carbon electricity generation system fit for the future.

One speaker said: “Transforming the UK’s economy over the next three decades to reach net zero will be a journey of unprecedented change and we still need to go further and faster in the next 30 years.

“But, conference we can no longer ignore the fact that without nuclear we cannot reach net zero by 2050. And we must change our stance on nuclear if we wish to have a seat at the table in that future.”

The article Mayor of Liverpool opens UNISON’s energy conference first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Christina McAnea introduces new energy report at conference

Gridlock, a new report outlining the inadequacy of current government help to drive energy efficiency, was launched by UNISON today at the union’s annual energy conference, being held in Liverpool.

It claims short-term policies and a complex array of ever-changing support packages have left millions of households with insufficient help to meet soaring energy bills.

It also concludes that unless substantial progress is made on making sure sustainable homes and vehicles are within reach of those on lower and middle incomes, the UK won’t meet its 2050 net-zero target.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea, said at the conference: “Energy is a hot topic of political debate right now. Record energy price increases have hammered family finances. While many energy companies’ profits have boomed.

“We’re also the fifth richest nation in the world, but we’ve got the most energy inefficient housing stock in Western Europe.  If our advice on energy policy had been heeded, we wouldn’t be in this crisis, and we wouldn’t be watching many more coming our way.

“We’ve long called for a national programme of energy efficiency measures, delivered door to door, free to those who cannot afford to pay, and interest free finance for those able to pay.”

Speaking of the launch of Gridlock, she said: “So, we’re warning, once again – about the elitist energy economy this government is creating.

“Greener homes are beyond the reach of many, because of inadequate government help. To turn this around, public investment is an absolute priority.

“75% of our members who responded to the survey said they could not afford to take up any of the government’s incentives, and so the money available goes to those who don’t need it, exacerbating the inequalities we already see, and creating an ever more elitist energy system.

“UNISON energy members must be part of building that fairer system, fit for the future, with good quality, unionised jobs, and everyone working together towards achieving net zero.

“Imagine, looking back in years to come and saying, ‘I helped make that happen. I made a difference… We made a difference.’”

The article Christina McAnea introduces new energy report at conference first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Failure to widen financial help for a greener future will mean climate goals are missed, says UNISON

Government help to drive energy efficiency is inadequate, putting greener homes beyond the reach of all but the wealthy, says UNISON in a new report published today (Monday).

Unless substantial progress is made on making sure sustainable homes and vehicles are within reach of those on lower and middle incomes, the UK won’t meet its 2050 net-zero target, the union says.

Without a rethink on financial help and incentives to turbocharge the “painfully slow” progress, the government risks creating an elitist energy economy, according to UNISON’s Gridlock report.

The research, being launched at the union’s annual energy conference taking place in Liverpool later today, says short-term policies and a complex array of ever-changing support packages have left millions of households with insufficient help to meet soaring energy bills.

Most incentives to encourage a switch to greener energy involve considerable upfront costs, meaning that it’s wealthier households – those already better able to cope with higher energy costs – that are most likely to benefit.

In a UNISON survey of public sector workers who own their own homes, conducted for the report, almost four fifths (79%) said they were concerned about climate change and global warming.

More than seven in ten (74%) said they were keen to switch to cleaner energy, but felt they were not being offered enough government support to do so.

For many, the significant costs of switching to greener alternatives to heat homes are unaffordable. More than three quarters (77%) said that even with up to £5,000 available from government grants to upgrade to a modern air-source heat pump, they would be unable to afford the extra £3-5,000 they’d need to finance themselves.

More than half (53%) of the 1,500 who completed the survey said if their current boiler were to break down, they would not be able to replace it if it was beyond repair.

The overwhelming majority (87%) still use gas to heat their homes, and four in ten (41%) said their properties were difficult to heat and often felt cold and draughty.

Just 4% thought government schemes aimed at encouraging the switch to clean energy systems were affordable and aimed at them.

UNISON says by failing to provide clear incentives to drive the green shift, the government has missed an opportunity to reduce bills, particularly for those on lower incomes.

The only way to get the UK back on a net-zero track is improve funding to drive down upfront costs, the union says, otherwise climate goals will never be reached. 

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The UK is in the last-chance saloon.

“Ministers must get to grips with this problem now, not in years to come when it’s too late.

“Those households who can least afford to switch to cleaner energy are the ones needing help the most with their bills.

“What’s needed is a fair system that works for everyone, not just those with the most money. 

“Without a drastic change in tack from government, a greener future is just a distant dream.” 

Notes to editors:
– The Gridlock report examines home heating sources, solar power, efficiencies such as insulation and investment in electric vehicles. The survey was conducted from 23 May and 6 June 2023 and completed by 1,562 UNISON members who own their own homes.
– The report is being launched during UNISON’s conferences at ACC Liverpool from 11 to 16 June. Full details of the conferences can be found here.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:

Fatima Ayad M: 07508 080383 E: f.ayad@unison.co.uk
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk

The article Failure to widen financial help for a greener future will mean climate goals are missed, says UNISON first appeared on the UNISON National site.