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GMB announces further strike dates over British Gas ‘fire and rehire’ pay cuts

BRITISH GAS workers will stage five more days of strike action over the firm’s threat to sack staff and rehire them on lower pay, the GMB union announced today.

Workers rejected the widely criticised tactic with an overwhelming 89 per cent Yes vote for strike action late last year, resulting in five days of walkouts which ended on Monday.  

The next round of 24-hour strikes will begin on January 20 and continue on January 22, 25, 29 and February 1. 

GMB national secretary Justin Bowden said: “British Gas provoked their loyal staff into strike action in the depths of winter by refusing to heed their overwhelming rejection of the fire and rehire pay cuts. 

“They have now ignored a five-day demonstration by the engineers that the proposals are not acceptable. 

“They are forcing further disruption on their customers all the way into next month because of the new strike dates. 

“British Gas should recognise that the only way to end the disruption they provoked is to take [the] pay cuts off the table.”

Parent company Centrica recorded a group-wide operating profit of £901 million in 2019, according to the company accounts.

The group also declared an adjusted operating profit of £229m for its domestic heating business for the six months to June 30 last year – up 27 per cent on the same period of 2019.

Scores of engineers logged cases of bullying and intimidation by British Gas management during the first strike, using a reporting helpline launched by GMB. 

The union has also announced a national strike fund with an appeal to branches, GMB members and other union bodies. It can be found at crowdfunder.co.uk/british-gas-strike-fund.

A Centrica spokesman said: "Over 83 per cent of our workforce have already accepted our new terms, in which base pay and pensions are protected, including a significant majority of GMB members. 

"This shows most of our people understand that our business needs to change because customer needs are changing. 

"GMB’s mandate for strike action is weak; they are fighting against modernisation and changes which will help to protect well paid jobs in the long term and are doing so at a time that our country needs everyone to pull together."  

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