Thousands of British Gas workers will go on strike today (20 Jan) for the second time, over what they describe as a “fire and rehire” policy, which it’s claimed will cut staff pay and conditions.
Around 7,000 British Gas engineers and other workers are expected to participate in industrial action against British Gas’ owners, Centrica
Staff already took part in strike action over the same issue earlier this month, but the dispute is yet to be settled.
The strike was called by the GMB union, which has criticised Centrica boss, Chris O’Shea, for “refusing to listen” and called on the company to scrap the “fire and rehire” approach, which it says forces workers to accept worse new terms or face dismissal.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, British Gas engineers described feeling “bullied” by the process, and felt “intimidation tactics” were being used by their employer.
Will my service be affected by the strikes?
As well as today, British Gas staff will strike on the following days:
- 22 Jan
- 25 Jan
- 29 Jan
- 30 Jan
- 31 Jan
- 1 Feb
Centrica says it has “strong contingency plans in place to ensure we will still be there for customers who really need us, and we’ll prioritise vulnerable households and emergencies.”
The GMB claims workers will not be paid extra for the additional working time which is written into the new contracts, although Centrica claim that “the vast majority of engineers” will be paid more through achieving customer targets.
GMB National Secretary, Justin Bowden, said: “The strike is stepping up a gear this week with further days of action, with the company apparently disregarding its customers and its obligations.
“In the face of growing employee and customer discontent, and after the first round of the biggest and most successful gas strike in decades, the management of profitable British Gas continue to bury their heads in the sand.
“British Gas workers have already rejected pay cuts on pain of fire and rehire, yet in the face of condemnation across the political spectrum, Chris O’Shea refuses to listen to his workforce despite Centrica being a company of underlying profitability.
“Instead of lashing out the engineers who overwhelmingly rejected his plan and voted to take strike action, Mr O’Shea should withdraw fire and rehire and enter constructive discussions with GMB to avert further disruption.”
A Centrica spokesperson said: “We’re operating in an incredibly competitive market and British Gas has lost too many jobs and too many customers over recent years. We can’t continue like this.
“We need to take action to modernise and refocus the company in line with what our customers need now, not what they needed 20 years ago. Our pay for engineers will remain the highest in the sector, but we need to get productivity back to where it used to be and for some, we need to increase the working week from 37 to 40 hours.
“We’re not changing base pay or pensions and we will reward increased productivity through additional bonuses. 83 per cent of our employees have already accepted the new terms - including the majority of our engineers. Our changes are ultimately to protect and create jobs for the future.’’