British Gas workers will today burn new contracts which they have been told by Chris O’Shea, head of parent company Centrica, they must sign or be fired in March. The GMB union says the contracts represent the imposition of hourly pay 15 per cent below the agreed rate.
At 10am on Friday 22 January, engineers at various locations across England, Scotland and Wales will publicly burn the contracts, and will be taking further strike action on 22, 25, 29, 30, 31 January, and 1 February.
British Gas engineers and staff voted overwhelmingly by 89 per cent to strike after being told they would be fired if they did not accept cuts to their pay and terms and conditions. The strikes to date have caused disruption to customers, with an estimated 100,000 homes now waiting for services. Stockport MP Navendu Mishra has called on the Financial Conduct Authority to investigate Centrica for ‘engineering an employment situation which results in the insurance cover that customers purchased in good faith not being honoured’.
Centrica reported an operating profit (before exceptional items and tax) of £901 million in 2019. The operating profitability of its UK home heating business rose by 27 per cent in the first six months of 2020.
Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary, said: “GMB members at British Gas are burning the new contracts to show graphically their defiance of the imposition of hourly pay 15 per cent below the agreed rate – as well as other changes.
“This is yet another attempt to get through to Mr O’Shea that staff accepting cuts of this magnitude in a profitable company is wishful thinking in the extreme. British Gas has provoked disruption to more than 100,000 households already in the backlog for services. That number will grow due to the seven new strike dates.
“The company needs to put customers and staff first by abandoning wishful thinking and taking ‘fire and rehire’ off the table.”
The strike has been highlighted on social media using the tags #StopTheBritishGasFire and #FireAndRehire.
* Source: GMB Union