HR · 22 December 2020

Fire and rehire plan gone wrong? British Gas employees plan a 5-day walkout

British GasGMB Trade Union announces action in January following overwhelming vote for strike action by British Gas employees. 

GMB members employed as service and repair gas engineers, will stage a total withdrawal of labour for five days in January in a dispute over the fire and rehire plans of British Gas managers.

The only exceptions will be dealing with emergencies and problems for households with vulnerable people.

The initial stoppage will be for a five-day strike which will run from 00:01 on Thursday 7 January through until 23:59 on Monday 11 January. This will be followed by further stoppages to be announced later.

Alongside the 4,500 service and repair gas engineers being called on to strike will be 600 central heating installers, 540 electrical engineers and 170 specialist business gas engineers and 1,700 smart metering engineers.

The move comes after last week’s overwhelming 89% “yes” vote in favour of industrial action by GMB members at British Gas. The industrial action ballot followed by a decisive rejection of British Gas’ parent company’s plan to cut pay, terms and conditions.

In response, British Gas issued an ultimatum for workers to agree cuts to pay, terms and conditions by Wednesday 23 December on pain of dismissal.

The use of ‘fire and rehire’ tactics has been roundly condemned across the political spectrum and devolved nations.

“No employer should be treating its employees the way British Gas boss Chris O’Shea is. His actions have tarnished the reputation of a great British company,” Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary said.

“There’s still time for British Gas to see sense, remove the fire and rehire threats, and negotiate a fair settlement to avoid a walkout.”

Bowden blames British Gas boss O’Shea entirely for this disruption. “He has provoked a loyal workforce into strike action and with his threats to either accept very substantial cuts in pay and conditions or be sacked.  His swinging cuts have already been overwhelmingly rejected by engineers. Any decent boss would think again.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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