British Gas forces its entire workforce into a ‘fire and rehire’ process

‘If we fail to reach an agreement, we stand ready to defend members,’ says UNISON

British Gas workers have been critical in keeping everyone’s homes warm and stoves lit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet now, the company has served notice on its entire workforce and is pushing employees to accept significantly worse terms and conditions of employment.

UNISON national officer for energy Matthew Lay said: “It’s important that we stand up to the attempts by British Gas to bully staff into accepting greatly reduced terms and conditions.

“We are negotiating hard to find a solution, one that recognises the business’s challenges ahead but also reflects the needs of members.

“If we fail to reach an agreement, we stand ready to defend members. Work is underway to hold an industrial action ballot.”

The new British Gas conditions include:

  • reduced annual leave;
  • reduced sick pay;
  • reduced overtime rates;
  • longer working hours;
  • removal of contractual redundancy pay.

The company has also served formal notice of its intention to end all recognition agreements with staff unions, of which UNISON is the largest.

UNISON has had a long, cooperative relationship with the employer going back many decades. But it sees the current move as an unprecedented attack by British Gas on a loyal and productive workforce, and a completely different tactic to how it has worked with its trade unions and employees in the past.

In response, UNISON has launched a campaign against British Gas’ attack on staff, and is encouraging all UNISON members and the public to write to their MPs and urge them to stand up for employees.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis has himself been writing directly to MPs, encouraging them to support British Gas staff.

And a ‘don’t be bullied by British Gas’ leaflet is available for all employees via the UNISON website.