British Gas engineers start five-day strike over pay and conditions

GMB union said it is the ‘first national gas strike in a decade’

British Gas engineers have launched a five-day strike action starting this morning.

The strike comes after GMB Union conducted a strike ballot of 9,000 members in December 2020 and almost 89% voted in favour of industrial action.

The trade union claims the vote was after parent company Centrica said it would impose ‘fire and rehire’ cuts to workers’ pay and terms and conditions.

Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary, said GMB members have stayed home and supported the ‘first’ national gas strike in a decade.

He added: “The months and months of fire and rehire pay cut threats from British Gas Chief Executive Officer Chris O’Shea have provoked thousands and thousands of GMB engineers and call centre staff to strike, the only option left to them by a business that made £901 million operating profit yet still plans to sack them because they won’t accept the scale of cuts it demands.”

A Centrica spokesperson said:  “We have done everything we can with the GMB to avoid industrial action. Whilst we’ve made great progress with our other unions, sadly the GMB leadership seems intent on causing disruption to customers during the coldest weekend of the year, amid a global health crisis and in the middle of a national lockdown.”

The company said it has strong contingency plans in place to ensure that it will still be there for customers who really need its services and it will prioritise vulnerable households and emergencies.

It added: “Over 83% of our workforce have already accepted our new terms, in which base pay and pensions are protected, including a significant majority of GMB members. This shows most of our people understand that our business needs to change because customer needs are changing.

“GMB’s mandate for strike action is weak. They are fighting against modernisation and changes which will help to protect well-paid jobs in the long term and are doing so at a time that our country needs everyone to pull together.’

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