Union demands public ownership to deal with big energy exploitation
UNITE, Scotland’s biggest trade union, has said public ownership of energy companies is the only serious way to tackle Scotland’s “fuel poverty crisis.”
It cited research conducted by the transparency group Corporate Watch showing a move to a publicly-owned energy system across the UK would pay for itself in 10 years and save families around £158 a year on their fuel bills.
Its call follows the Scottish Government’s concession that Scotland would miss its fuel poverty targets this month and in response to housing minister Kevin Stewart’s plans to spend £10m on warmer homes.
“Until we regain public control and ownership of energy, the private companies will carry on putting profits above people’s lives.” Pat Rafferty
Unite’s Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said: “Successive Scottish Governments have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on making homes warmer – but rising energy costs wipe out the gains and keep people in fuel poverty.
“Until we regain public control and ownership of energy, the private companies will carry on putting profits above people’s lives.
“Surveys have shown that a large majority of people support public ownership of energy utilities and it’s time politicians followed their lead. We welcomed [Labour leader] Jeremy Corbyn’s call to bring the big six energy firms into public ownership. It’s time that other political leaders took the same position.
“Public ownership of energy might not happen overnight, but it won’t happen at all if politicians don’t take a stand for it. Unite urges them to do so – because this is literally a matter of life and death for many people in Scotland.”
There were 22,011 deaths registered in Scotland in the four months of winter last year.
The union maintains that investments of the kind announced by the Scottish Government are defunct before implementation because of the “massive” price rises from big energy companies.
There were 22,011 deaths registered in Scotland in the four months of winter last year compared with 18,675 in the winter months of 2013 and 2014.
The union also said that since February, the big energy suppliers have passed on price cuts of only 5 per cent to consumers even though wholesale gas costs have dropped in the same period by an average of 23 per cent. According to their research, in the last 8 years, gas and electricity bills have risen nearly £800, a 151 per cent jump from 2004.
Picture courtesy of Johannes Svensson
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