On Wednesday 14 August, RWE the troubled German owner of energy company NPower, announced a 60% fall in revenue, mainly to do with power generation in Germany.
Buried beneath this was a plan to shut unspecified 16 out of 26 sites in the profitable British section. (See a Daily Mirror report here.)
Although details are unspecified, they are talking about 3,000 job losses, or a third of the workforce.
There have already been announcements of offshoring and redundancies, but mainly of management or the generally well-paid but unorganised consultant and IT-type grades. These staff are on temporary and personal contracts and despite some (lacklustre) attempts at organising, few are in the union. The grades covered by national negotiation, where union membership is concentrated, have not been hit so far, but surely will be.
There are three unions organising in Npower. Unison organises mainly clerical grades in the north east and West Midlands. Unite organises mainly meter readers, engineers, and clerical staff in Leeds. GMB also organises both blue collar and white collar staff in the north east.
Similar "cost cutting", and potential job losses, is hitting the rest of the "big six" utility companies.