British Gas workers vote for strike action in pay and conditions row

British Gas workers vote for strike action in dispute over pay and conditions threatening walk out by engineers over festive season

  • The GMB union said members backed industrial action by almost 9 to 1
  • British Gas parent company Centrica said the action did not have a strong mandate as only 52 per cent of eligible members voted in favour  
  • Thursday’s vote on industrial action follows an earlier mass rejection by members of an offer from Centrica regarding changes to employee terms and conditions 

British Gas workers have voted in favour of strikes in a dispute over pay and conditions.

The GMB union said its members backed industrial action by almost 9 to 1 in the Thursday vote.

However British Gas parent company Centrica said the action has a ‘very weak mandate’ as only 52% of eligible GMB members voted in its favour.

Union officials will meet in the coming days to consider strike dates, threatening action by British Gas engineers over the festive season.

The union said British Gas has set a deadline of December 23rd for thousands of engineers and other staff to accept its conditions and pay cuts or be fired.

British Gas workers have voted in favour of strikes in a dispute over pay and conditions. The GMB union said its members backed industrial action by almost 9 to 1 in the Thursday vote. However British Gas parent company Centrica said the action has a ‘very weak mandate’ as only 52% of eligible GMB members voted in its favour [File photo]

GMB national officer Justin Bowden said: ‘The ultimatum from British Gas to its workforce to accept these cuts before Christmas or get the sack, has now made strike action unavoidable.

‘Our members had already voted in huge numbers to reject the company’s draconian cuts to terms and conditions.

‘GMB shop stewards and officials will meet to consider and assess the ballot result and the nature of the industrial action and the dates for action – initially across January.

‘They will also consider what emergency cover is required, including for the elderly and vulnerable households.’

Mr Bowden said British Gas and Centrica were ‘entirely to blame’ for any disruption by ‘provoking’ workers into strike action with threats and deadlines to either accept substantial cuts in pay and conditions or be sacked. 

Both Centrica and GMB have promised elderly customers will be protected from any industrial action during the winter months [Stock photo]

In a statement to the Mail Online, a spokesperson for Centrica said: ‘Only 52% of the eligible GMB membership has voted to support strike action – this is a very weak mandate – it is clear the GMB leadership does not have popular support across their membership for this course of action.’

The company said it must make changes having lost millions of customers and more than half its earnings over the last decade. 

Renegotiating employee terms and conditions will both cut the company’s wage bill and allow it to become more competitive by offering customers more flexible appointment options, Centrica said.   

It warned that any industrial action could harm customers and colleagues and reaffirmed that the offer, earlier rejected by a majority of GMB members, was final.  

‘It’s disappointing that they [GMB] would take such wrong-headed and cold-hearted action during winter and amid a global health crisis,’ the statement read.

Earlier this week, a cross-party group of 140 MPs wrote to Centrica boss Chris O’Shea, urging him to withdraw the threat to fire and rehire employees, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed was an exploitative negotiation tactic.  

In the letter, MPs said British Gas’ actions have ‘tarnished the reputation of a great British company.’

Source: Read Full Article