British Gas engineers begin strike

An online slogan being used as part of the GMB action this week

A national five-day strike by GMB members at British Gas commenced today, with various pickets planned across the country in line with government guidance.

The union said strike action comes after it conducted a ballot of 9,000 members last month and 89% voted in favour of industrial action.

It claimed parent company Centrica was imposing “fire and rehire” cuts to workers’ pay and terms and conditions.

Justin Bowden, GMB national secretary, said: “British Gas boss Chris O’Shea’s attempts to bully workers into accepting cuts to their pay and terms and conditions has provoked this inevitable outcome – massive disruption to customers in the depths of winter and a stain on the reputation of an historic company and brand.”

A Centrica spokesperson 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 weekend of the year, amid a global health crisis and in the middle of a national lockdown. We have strong contingency plans in place to ensure we will still be there for customers who really need us, and we’ll prioritise vulnerable households and emergencies.  

“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.”