The government has been urged to mount a strong public awareness campaign promoting the benefits of smart meters, as energy giant SSE announced 444 job losses today (Wednesday 8 May) in its retail sector covering smart meter installation.

Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union which has more than 4,000 members at SSE, blamed the proposed job cuts on the lack of take-up by consumers of smart meters which could assist in reducing energy emissions.

Unite called on Claire Perry, minister for energy and clean growth, to ratchet up the public education campaign of the benefits of smart meters, which also include better management of energy needs and saving money – especially given the heightened interest in the climate change crisis generated by the recent Extinction Rebellion protests.

Unite national officer for energy and utilities Peter McIntosh said: “Today’s announcement by SSE Retail is disappointing, but not unexpected. Unite will oppose any attempts by the company to introduce compulsory redundancies.

“Demand for smart meters to be fitted in households has not reached the levels expected by the company – hence the job losses announced by the SSE retail sector.

“This situation is as a result of yet another failed government policy. The smart metering programme should not have been left to the energy companies, as the 2020 deadline looms for every home in Britain to be offered a smart meter.

“It is clear that the government message on smart metering is not cutting through to the public and we call on Claire Perry as minister for energy and clean growth to refresh the campaign highlighting the energy saving benefits of having a smart meter.

“I think this is given added impetus by the recent Extinction Rebellion protests.

“We will continue to work constructively with the SSE management to ensure we retain as many of the skilled workers as possible and we have been working with the company to avoid this situation over the last six months. Unfortunately, the situation has not improved over that time.”


For more information please contact Alex Flynn Unite head of media and campaigns on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869

Notes to editors

A smart meter is a new kind of gas and electricity meter that can digitally send meter readings to the householder’s energy supplier for more accurate energy bills. Every home in Britain should have been offered a smart meter from their supplier by 2020.

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.