In a ballot carried out by the GMB union consulting its 10,000 British Gas members on the necessity of industrial action, 95% of respondents voted in favour of strikes against the company. This new turn of events comes in light of British Gas’s proposed fire and rehire scheme. The GMB union claims the energy giant is seeking to sack a considerable amount of its workforce, in order to then reinstate them on new contracts with less favourable terms and conditions.
In June of this year, Centrica reported that it was seeking to restructure its operations with a more customer focused approach. As part of this there are plans for 5000 redundancies, as well as changes to contractual terms, conditions and pay. The British Gas parent organisation stated to trade unions that it would indeed give some employees a notice of termination for their contracts, before offering a new contract with updated terms for the same job, yet that these new terms and conditions would be aligned with the market average. Centrica did also state no changes to base pay will be instated and that pensions were also to be protected during the restructure.
Justin Bowden, national secretary of the GMB union stated in response that ‘Centrica bosses are holding a box of matches and threatening to set fire to the terms and conditions of this loyal and dedicated workforce. It’s a complete and utter betrayal of the British Gas brand… The company have already burnt through the confidence of its staff. Today’s 19 to 1 vote demonstrates GMB members are not prepared to tolerate fire and rehire threats’