The GMB energy and general union declared an end to the long and bitter dispute with British Gas over its aggressive policy of firing and rehiring workers. GMB members voted three to one to accept a new deal. Around 7,000 British Gas engineers staged 44 days of strike action after the company threatened to sack them if they didn’t sign up to detrimental changes to their terms and conditions. The new deal offers improvements to overtime rates and unsocial hours payments, places limits on the amount of unsocial working undertaken, reverses the decision to close the defined benefit pension scheme
Energy, U.K., Serbia, Romania
Around 9000 employees of British Gas were due to begin a five-day strike from 7 January in protest at the company’s decision to fire all workers and rehire them on worse pay and conditions. British Gas’s parent company Centrica claimed the measures are necessary in response to the impact of the pandemic. However, the GMB trade union, representing engineers and call-centre staff argue that the initiative is excessive particularly in view of the company’s latest reported operating profits. 89% of the union’s members in the company voted for the strike action.
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
The Federation of Trade Unions Gaz Romania (FSGR) has said it may resort to strike action if the ENGIE energy company doesn't respond to its demands on pay. The union argues that the employers have failed to come up with a reasonable offer and also to provide information needed for the negotiations. The union has been in contact with the Labour Inspectorate to help put pressure on the company to provide the requested data and it hasn't ruled out possible legal action to be accompanied by protests and strikes.
Waste workers employed by Birmingham City Council, the largest local authority in England, have won a new deal that will protect the pay of workers who were threatened with the loss of thousands of pounds in pay.
(March 2017) The Supreme Court has ruled that energy company British Gas can no longer appeal against a European Court ruling that holiday pay should take account of earnings based on commission. The case has been supported by public services union Unison and is based on the Working Time Directive. The union challenged British Gas because it restricted holiday pay only to basic pay which penalised workers who received a lot of commission pay. Unison is concerned about the impact of Brexit on this important legislation.
(July 2016) Over 400 energy meter readers around the country took their second period of four-day strike action in protest at demands by the E.On company that they work 30 minutes extra three nights a week. The unions - Unite, Unison and GMB - are concerned about long working days and that the company won't stop there if the extra hours are agreed. Read more at Unite.