I've been standing GMB members in their dispute with British Gas.

I’m appalled that British Gas has gone ahead with the mass sacking of striking gas engineers who refused to accept a 15% cut in pay rates and other imposed changes in terms and conditions.

On 1 April British Gas handed dismissal notices to close to 1,000 of its engineers, who install and repair boilers and heating systems for the company’s nine million service customers. The engineers were granted a grace period of two weeks in which to sign up to the new contracts or lose their jobs.

Under these new contracts, full-time engineers would be required to work an extra three hours a week, or 40 hours a week in total, and would not be paid a higher rate to work when required on weekends and public holidays.

The dispute between British Gas and their staff could have been resolved through negotiation. Instead, the company has resorted to sacking highly skilled and qualified engineers – they’ve chosen to cut off their nose to spite their face.

Using the threat of unemployment to reduce pay and diminish terms and conditions is despicable, especially after a decade of pay restraint and in the middle of a deep recession. The use of such fire and rehire tactics should be outlawed outright.

No employer should treat their staff in this way, and I am saddened to see this tactic from a longstanding British company like British Gas.

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