05:40PM, Tuesday 12 January 2021
British Gas GMB Union members protested over proposed changes to working conditions in Windsor yesterday (Monday).
A picket line was set up outside Centrica’s main headquarters in Maidenhead Road– the company which owns British Gas.
GMB members have today (Tuesday) announced five more days of strike action over Centrica’s plans to ‘fire and rehire’ and cuts to workers’ pay and terms.
Last June Centrica announced plans to cut about 5,000 jobs in a ‘significant restructure’ and to modernise workers’ terms and conditions to reflect the changing needs of customers.
One of these changes would see engineers work an extra three hours per week, on top of the 37 hours, to start their working day at the customers home, rather than in their own home.
GMB says 89 per cent of its members voted for strike action, which will take place on Jan 20, 22, 25, 29 and February 1.
Justin Bowden, GMB national secretary, said: “A profitable British Gas provoked their loyal staff into strike action in the depths of winter by refusing to heed their overwhelming rejection of the fire and rehire pay cuts.
“They have now ignored a five-day demonstration by the engineers that the proposals are not acceptable.
“They are forcing further disruption on their customers all the way into next month because of the new strike dates.
“British Gas should recognise that the only way to end the disruption they provoked is to take fire and rehire pay cuts off the table.”
Centrica said since July it has spent more than 300 hours in negotiations with the four recognised trade unions including GMB, UNISON, Unite and Prospect to try and reduce more than 80 different employee contracts to four standard contracts across the company.
It said more than 83 per cent of its workforce had already accepted the new terms.
A statement said: ‘We’ve 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 time of the year, amid a global health crisis and in the middle of a national lockdown.
“Over 83 per cent 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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