Perth-based energy giant SSE is to cut 444 jobs in its retail business amid tough competition and the introduction of a cap on energy prices.
The voluntary redundancies will involve employees in customer service and smart metering.
SSE has been trying to offload or spin off its retail electricity and gas supply business to focus on its renewables and regulated networks businesses.
However, plans to offload it through a merger with rival Npower collapsed in December.
Tony Keeling, SSE chief operating officer and co-head of retail, said: “Like a number of suppliers, we are facing challenges due to competition increasing, the introduction of the energy price cap and higher operating costs.
“To run a sustainable business, we need to become more efficient and ensure we have the right number of employees in the right locations to best serve our customers.”
The union Unite, 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, UK minister for energy and clean growth, to ratchet up the public education campaign of the benefits of smart meters.
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.”