Energy unions are facing challenges on several fronts. Leading gas company Centrica has faced major criticism from unions - GMB, UNISON, Unite and Prospect - when it followed up an announcement of 5000 job cuts with a plan to sack and re-hire 20000 staff on worse terms and conditions. The GMB union has already had a consultative ballot which showed 95% support for strike action and so a formal ballot will be undertaken. Meanwhile the GMB members at Northern Gas Networks have voted 98% in favour of industrial action on pay while Unite members at the Drax energy company have been balloted over action in protest at the company's plans to make 230 workers redundant despite a no-redundancy pledge last year.
Energy unions face major fights
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On 26 November, unions in the multinational energy companies ENGIE and EDF mobilised to defend jobs and the public energy sector, demanding the suspension of the companies’ restructuring projects. The unions argue that, if implemented, the plans will endanger both the future of employees and the French energy sector with little consideration of the disastrous social consequences. EPSU sent a message of solidarity for the action. Joint communique (FR)
Services union ver.di has successfully fought off attempts by the Nord Residenz care company to shut down the works council. On 27 April, the regional labour court in Bremen in North West Germany ruled against the company’s attempts to dismiss the works council chair and her deputy, expel them from the works council and dissolve the works council itself. Nord Residenz is owned by the French multinational Orpea. Ver.di welcomed the many messages of solidarity support from trade unions across Europe and interventions by the state government and mayor of Bremen. Meanwhile, the union faces a major
Following mobilisations on 14 and 19 January in protest at restructuring plans affecting the ENGIE and EDF energy companies, trade unions have set dates for further action in February. The four energy unions are planning joint mobilisations on 4, 10 and 11 February to coincide with key debates in parliament. Strike action is planned for the 10th when the head of EDF will be taking part in parliamentary hearing. The unions have also been lobbying MPs, 83 of whom have joined with the unions in sending a letter to the government protesting against the EDF “Hercule” restructuring project.