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by Pete Lazenby
BRITISH GAS workers ended a five-day strike today but vowed to repeat the action as many times as necessary to stop the company imposing new inferior contracts.
In Leeds, pickets were out at the energy supplier’s Newbridge House call centre.
Among them was GMB union rep Ian Brown, who told the Morning Star: “The mood has been buoyant and one of solidarity between field engineer staff and office staff.
“More strike days are planned. We will be striking for five days from January 20, with future dates after that to be announced shortly. Then there will be third, fourth and fifth strikes to be announced.”
He accused British Gas of attacking its own workers by seeking to fire and rehire them on inferior contracts.
“None of us wanted to strike but we have been left with no choice. We want to get back around the negotiating table but the company refuses.”
Mr Brown said that British Gas is demanding extra hours of work for no extra pay and other changes.
“The company has said that if we do not agree to the new terms and conditions, they will fire and rehire us on the conditions the company wants," Mr Brown said. “The new conditions would hit family life — time we have to spend with families.”
Parent company Centrica made a £901 million profit in 2019 and boss Chris O’Shea is on an annual pay package worth £800,000.
The pickets held placards asking: “Why aren’t you listening, Mr O’Shea?” and wore masks of the chief executive.
A Centrica spokesman said: “If we are to avoid more job losses and continue, unlike most in the sector, to maintain a highly skilled team of engineers employed directly by the company, these new terms and conditions are essential.”
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