GMB British Gas members begin strike day 17 with protest in Aylesbury

The protests are part of a national strike over the company's alleged 'fire and rehire threat' to workers.

Thursday, 11th February 2021, 4:20 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th February 2021, 4:27 pm
Protestors last week

Protests are taking place in Aylesbury again today following a picket line in the town last Monday.

Thousands of GMB members at British Gas are taking action nationwide over their claims that company has "fired and rehired" them on what they say are 'worse terms and conditions'.

Engineers and other workers will continue to strike between until February 14.

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Some high profile celebrities have backed the cause including the likes of TV personality Robert Rinder, of Judge Rinder fame. Mr Rinder has described the strikes as 'a battle of right vs wrong'. Mark Wright (TV personality), Nitish Kumar (Comedian) and Gemma Collins (TV personality) are also supporting the strike action.

British Gas has also been criticised by politicians across the political spectrum.

Even Prime Minister Boris Johnson commented on the situation, saying in Parliament: “It’s very important all businesses treat their employees with fairness and respect – I share the point of view of the honourable lady.

"But it’s also vital that we have a flexible economy that is able to generate jobs particularly when we are going to be going through a very difficult and bumpy time. And we have had a proud record of keeping employment high and unemployment low in this country and we want to continue that approach.”

GMB say the new proposed contract will have a hugely detrimental effect to the lives of more than 15 engineers in Aylesbury.

A spokesman for GMB claimed: "The new contract is nothing to do with the pandemic, they have been planning this for a long time BUT they chose to implement this in the middle of it knowing that we could NOT have proper Union meetings due to the restrictions, instead we had to have online “webinars” with the union out of work time all the time feeling stressed and isolated.

"This has been done to a workforce that have worked over and above during the crisis, continuing to visit customers with heating and hot water faults again putting ourselves and our families at risk but doing so willingly because it’s what you the customer deserves.

"We have also been working with food banks delivering food to those shielding.

"Throughout the past six months we have been told to "take a leap of faith" that this is "a good offer"... and threatening us with even worse terms if we do not accept."

An Aylesbury worker who did not wish to be named said: "I would understand if the company was struggling. I have worked through the entire pandemic.

"This is my 'thank you'. That is why it hurts so much. The strike is not a union agenda like the old. This is a genuine concern of my colleagues and I.

"The fire and rehire currently being enforced by British Gas has given my colleagues and I extreme stress for the past three months."

Centrica, who own British Gas said in response:

“We have plans to place to ensure we can be there for customers who really need us, and we’ll prioritise vulnerable households and emergencies.

“Our business needs to change to survive and protect 20,000 jobs. We know change is difficult but we have offered a fair deal that has been negotiated over 300 hours with unions – where base pay and pensions are protected. Eighty-three percent have already agreed to the new terms.’’