Of particular concern was Ofgem’s refusal to take into account repeated calls from Prospect, and other energy unions, about workforce resilience and the need to put measures in place to protect energy workers from ‘unsustainable underspending’ by the network owners.
In addition, Prospect highlights Ofgem’s proposal to allow ‘deep cuts to core areas of expenditure on safety and training that are especially concerning given the workforce challenges that the networks face.’
The submission continues:
“This planned programme of deep cuts, and the failure to introduce any robust mechanisms to monitor and improve key workforce metrics, threatens to further undermine workforce resilience, increase the risk of safety incidents, and leave the networks poorly equipped to face the significant challenges of the next decade.”
The RIIO-2 price control, which will cover 2021-26, sets out how the monopoly companies who operate the UK’s gas and energy networks can charge customers while still allowing them to run effectively and efficiently.
In July, Ofgem invited submissions to its consultation on the Draft Determinations to the new round of price controls.
Prospect’s response was drawn up in consultation with its members, particularly those working for the electricity transmission operators in Great Britain, such as National Grid, Scottish Power, and SSE.
The union added: “We strongly believe that the collective expertise and experience of members should have a central place in the formulation of policy and regulatory frameworks.”
Prospect’s submission adds:
“We strongly urge the regulator to consider a change of direction – the consequences of getting this wrong would be significant. There is a compelling case for introducing stronger protections for the workforce in the next price controls, to ensure the future resilience of the transmission workforce.”
Prospect proposes concrete metrics that could be used to develop a workforce resilience measure in four key areas:
- A robust workforce satisfaction measure
- A training and workforce development funding pot with associated training plan
- A concrete diversity measure
- Credible and sustained measures to tackle the roots of the stress epidemic
In its conclusion, Prospect’s submission says:
“We hope that there will be continuing, meaningful engagement with the transmission workforce regarding the final shape of the next price controls. As we have indicated, we strongly believe that the draft proposals contain serious flaws which need to be rectified, and we urge the regulator to consider a change of direction.
“The issue of resilience is not a trivial one and building and maintaining a healthy, diverse, skilled workforce will be critical to achieving the reliable, safe, and decarbonised energy system that consumers demand.”