More Strikes from British Gas - VIVA Training Academy

Industrial action by British Gas engineers in a dispute over pay and conditions is being stepped up, with the announcement of further strike days at the end of January as talks with the union reach deadlock.

What is the dispute between British Gas and the GMB about?

The GMB Union has accused British Gas of a “fire and rehire” policy; forcing its workers to accept cuts to pay and terms and conditions, including a longer working week.

A spokesman for British Gas owners Centrica 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 changes are ultimately to protect and create jobs for the future.”

GMB’s National Secretary, Justin Bowden said the actions of British Gas had “tarnished” its reputation and that:

“The use of fire and rehire threats has been condemned across the political spectrum and caused huge anger among this dedicated workforce.”

What’s the impact on the public?

Across the UK, the strike involves around 4,500 gas engineers, 600 central heating installers, 540 electrical engineers and 1,700 smart meter engineers.

Although Centrica says it has contingency plans in place to deal with the walkout, there are reports that the strike has impacted around 100,000 customers across the UK who have had appointments cancelled, a figure the company disputes.

Viva’s MD, Richard Firth, says:

“British Gas has done so much for so many people across the years, but times have changed and the multi-tiered middle management and high salaries they boasted when ‘times were good’ are no longer sustainable.”

“British Gas has never seen so much competition, stripping away their market share on all fronts. Energy supplies, home care plans and new boiler supplies have been hit hard by the Big Six and independent firms.”

“I feel for every single employee affected by these changes and their families, really I do, but looking at the bigger picture, it is clear why they’ve been introduced – in order for the British Gas board and management to survive.”

“If nothing else, the last twenty years have proved that ’Job for life’ organisations are a myth. It’s tough, but once you become surplus to requirements, there is no golden handshake anymore. Your gone!

“Facing this truth is important. Once you realise this is what life’s like it’s easier to make decisions about how to best safeguard your own future. After all we’re all responsible for ourselves.”

“I’m reminded of this quote by author of Game of Thrones, George Raymond Richard Martin…

‘We look at mountains and call them eternal, and so they seem… but in the course of time, mountains rise and fall, rivers change their courses, stars fall from the sky, and great cities sink beneath the sea. Even gods die, we think. Everything changes.’

“It’s not the end of the road for British Gas, but it has a string of difficult decisions ahead, which most people would dread. I send my best wishes to everyone at British Gas – at all levels – through these uncertain times.”


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