In September 2020, I wrote here about the fire and rehire tactics of British Gas’ parent company Centrica. I also wrote a letter to the Centrica CEO Chris O’Shea outlining my concerns about the tactics and that any changes made to working conditions must be done with workers, not to them.
The engineers have been taking part in three separate lots of strikes, and I felt it pertinent to reaffirm my support for the strike and the workers.
As much of the country and the economy went into a full-scale lockdown during 2020, British Gas engineers kept the country moving forward. They attended early morning and late night call outs, performed work in both commercial and residential properties, and kept the economy ticking over.
And what is their reward for this hard work and dedication? They are being exploited by Centrica.
Perhaps the worst aspect of this story is that Centrica is expected to increase its profits after strong performance throughout the latter part of 2020. Share prices remain strong and are 12% up on this time last year.
Despite this strong performance, Centrica wants engineers to increase their contracted working hours from 37 hours to 40 hours and simultaneously accept worse working terms. These changes equate in total to a 10 per cent pay cut – how is this fair?
If workers were to reject these new terms, they will be sacked, meaning they have been forced into a corner by the company. This is unacceptable.
This callous fire and rehire policy is a cynical attempt to water down working conditions and increased demands on already stretched workers. To do this during a pandemic is morally reprehensible and needs calling out for what it is – exploitation.
Alongside the Labour Party and GMB, I am providing my support to the ongoing strikes in Bolton by GMB members employed by British Gas/Centrica. We must do everything we can to #StopTheBritishGasFire and support worker’s rights.