British Gas advise on how to winter-proof your home
However parent company Centrica has hit back, denying there would be any pay cut and insisting base pay and pensions were protected. British Gas employees who are members of the union have been on strike for almost six weeks, and the GMB union claims they had been ordered they must sign acceptance of a 15 percent reduction as well as “other detrimental changes to terms conditions” or face losing their jobs.
Those refusing to sign will miss out on lump sum payments of up to £4,500 and other protected terms offered by the company, GMB has claimed.
GMB’s Central Executive Council (CEC) agreed to declare an official national lockout dispute between British Gas and GMB from April 1 unless the company reverses its decision.
Additionally, it has instructed dispute leaders to consult on further strike dates and other industrial action.
British Gas has been strongly criticised by Labour MPs Zarah Sultana and Nadia Whittome
Nadia Whittome, Labour MP for Nottingham East
Speaking about Chris O’Shea, Centrica’s CEO, Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary, said: “Mr O’Shea has unilaterally created an April 1 cliff edge to sack his workers and is driving the company at high speed toward it.
“If Mr O’Shea goes ahead with this reckless action, GMB has agreed to declare an official national lockout dispute with British Gas from April 1.
“There will also be further strikes and other appropriate action in this deadlocked dispute.
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Zandra Saldana, Labour MP for Coventry South
“For the CEO to gamble the future of a profitable business on a strategic decision of mass sackings is illogical. It will leave everyone bewildered.
“It is all the more illogical in that from the recent talks at ACAS, Mr O’Shea apologised for undermining trust by accepting dodgy legal advice to go ahead with fire and rehire and promised never ever to go down this road again.
“There is still time to pull back. Mr O’Shea should do what’s right for the business, the customers and the workers and take the April 1 deadline off the table.”
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Zandra Sultana’s tweet about the dispute
Nadia Whittome also tweeted about the situation
Zarah Sultana, Labour MP for Coventry South, tweeted: “British Gas is set to fire workers who refuse to accept a 15 percent pay cut later this week.
“If this outrageous threat goes ahead, more companies will feel emboldened to fire & rehire.
“British Gas needs to drop this threat & then we must ban fire & rehire. #StopTheBritishGasFire.”
Nadia Whittome, Labour MP for Nottingham East, posted: “This Thursday British Gas engineers will be fired unless they agree to new contracts and a 15 percent cut in pay rates.
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“A disgraceful way to treat key workers who have put themselves and their families at risk in the pandemic. @BritishGas should be ashamed.”
However, a Centrica spokesman told Express.co.uk: “There is no pay cut, base pay and pensions have been protected from the outset.
“We are also paying for the additional three hours we are asking engineers to work – we are paying them for this for the next two years – after this point, we are paying them for those hours but through a productivity bonus which means earnings are uncapped.
“There is a job for everyone at the end of this process and our new terms are fair and highly competitive and nearly everyone in the company has agreed to the changes. Sign up levels are well over 95 percent.
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British Gas’s parent company is Centrica
“We’re not cutting base salaries or changing our generous final salary pensions. Our gas service engineers will remain some of the best paid in the sector, earning £40,000 a year minimum.
“While change is difficult, reversing our decline – which has seen us lose over three million customers, cut over 15,000 jobs and seen profits halved over the last 10 years – is necessary.”
The spokesman added: “We have a responsibility to give our customers the service they deserve and in doing so protect the future of 20,000 highly paid UK jobs.
“The changes will also unlock our ability to grow jobs and hire 1000 green apprentices over the next two years.’’