Electricity firm to axe 600 jobs

EAST Midlands Electricity is cutting 200 jobs in its electrical contracting business this year and a further 400 over the next few years in the group as a whole. The company will also cut pay and benefits for contracting staff.

The chairman, John Harris, said that the changes were part of a drive to reduce costs throughout the company. About 400 jobs have been shed over the past two-and-a-half years and that trend is expected to continue.

In the first half of the year, a strong performance in the core electricity business lifted pre-tax profits by 23 per cent to pounds 30.3m from pounds 24.7m a year earlier. Turnover rose by 3.6 per cent to pounds 681.5m and the interim dividend is up 12 per cent to 5.72p.

The retail operation, which will be merged in April with that of Yorkshire Electricity, made a loss of about pounds 600,000 in the first six months. However, Mr Harris said that retail would make an operating profit for the full year.

He said five-year contracts now being negotiated by British Coal and the electricity industry would almost certainly mean a price freeze for his customers next April.

Mr Harris called on Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, to ensure that electricity consumers would not suffer as a result of the current review of energy policy.