Biggest dispute in 40 years
Gas workers strike over ‘fire and re-hire’ plan
Pickets will be on duty from Thursday in Edinburgh and Glasgow
Gas services will be severely disrupted when more than 10,000 gas workers begin five days of strikes on Thursday as part of the biggest dispute seen in the sector for over 40 years.
GMB members across the UK will take part in the action in a battle over a ‘fire and rehire’ plan laid-out by parent group Centrica’s chief executive Chris O’Shea.
The union accuses the CEO of refusing to accept efforts by GMB to negotiate a way forward for the business.
Instead, after months of talks, workers have been told to accept severe cuts to wages and conditions, or face being sacked.
All British and Scottish Gas divisions and services, including Service & Repair, Electrical Services, Smart Metering, Installations, and Customer Services will be impacted.
GMB Scotland senior organiser for commercial services Hazel Nolan, claimed Centrica’s executives had created their own crisis by exploiting workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today is CEO pay day, Chris O’Shea will take home a pre-bonus wage of £775,000, and Centrica have recorded a £901million operating profit for 2019,” she said.
“While GMB members in British Gas acted as emergency workers during the COVID19 pandemic, Chris O’Shea & the senior Millionaires Team of British Gas were busy plotting how to slash workers terms & conditions.
“In the grip of a global pandemic, Chris O’Shea’s anti-worker, ‘fire and rehire’ agenda would set a dangerous precedent for major UK employers, opening the floodgates for widespread attacks on workers’ jobs, pay and conditions. This is not how a country builds back better. “
“GMB members are being told they’ll be sacked and then forced to accept new terms and conditions – across the board cuts in wages pensions and leave. Take it or leave it. Centrica are turning a once great British industrial institution into a cowboy contractor.
“We have no choice but to fight-back.”
The union said exceptions to the industrial action will be dealing with emergencies and problems for households with vulnerable people.
Socially distanced picket lines will be in place at Scottish Gas Offices in Waterfront Avenue, Edinburgh, and Murdoch House, Bothwell Rd, Uddingston.
A Centrica spokesman said: “The GMB leadership is stuck in the past, fighting against modernisation and failing to understand that customer demands are changing; customers want better appointments and we need more flexibility to deliver for them.
“If we can’t change the way we work then we can’t do this, and our customers will turn to our competitors.
“Our new terms are fair and the majority of our workforce – including thousands of GMB members – accept that we need to change.
“We now expect to see well over 75% of our colleagues to have accepted by the end of the year.”