Reckless British Gas leave more than 150,000 homes waiting for services
London and East of England gas engineers 8th day of strike as backlog for services grow at treble the 6,000 households per day admitted by company
Reckless British Gas provoked the dispute leaving a backlog of more than 150,000 household waiting for services after eight days of strikes and number will grow during next four days of strike says GMB London
GMB members in London and the East of England with members across the country embark on strike day eight today Monday 25th January in a dispute over the imposition of hourly rates 15% below agreed rates and other changes by profitable British Gas's ' fire and rehire notices.
In a show of defiance on Friday 22nd January, during strike day seven, GMB London gas engineers staged a ceremonial burning of contract notices outside Havering Town Hall as they face being fired if they don't accept the imposed terms by end of March. See notes to editors below for press release on the event. Pictures are available from GMB London press office.
Gas engineers and other workers have been on strike for five days up to 11th and for two days last week on 20th and 22nd January. There will be further strikes on January 29th, 30th, 31st and February 1st in anger as profitable British Gas provokes further disruption for its customers.
British Gas engineers and staff voted overwhelmingly by 89% to strike after boss of parent company Centrica Mr O’Shea threatened to fire them all if they didn’t “accept” cuts to pay and terms and conditions.
The first five days of strike action caused massive disruption with an estimated 100,000 homes waiting for service across the country on January 12th.
British Gas told the press that it was clearing 40% of the 10,000 jobs from households on strike days. This is seriously misleading. The normal volume of jobs from households varies between 20,000 and 25,000 daily. The breakdown is three to one breakdown to service. There is all the normal routine servicing on top of this workload.
On strike days none of the routine service work is done. Only 15% of the breakdowns are dealt with. So the figure for the growth in the backlog is treble the 6, 000 claimed by the company. At the end of strike day eight the numbers of households in the backlog for services will be in excess of 150,000.
British Gas parent company Centrica reported an operating profit (before exceptional items and tax) of £901 million in 2019.
The operating profitability of its UK home heating business rose by 27 per cent in the first six months of 2020.
Gary Pearce, GMB London Region Senior Organiser for Energy said:
“The backlog of households awaiting services in British Gas is growing at treble the 6,000 per day the company admits. The claim that they are clearing the backlog on non-strike days is also not accurate.
“British Gas recklessly provoked this dispute. At the end of strike day eight, the backlog will have grown to more than 150,000 households waiting for services. That number will grow due to the next four strike dates.
“The imposed changes mean hourly rates for engineers 15% below agreed pay rates and other worse term and conditions.
“It was wishful thinking in the extreme to think that union members would ever acquiesce with cuts of this magnitude in a profitable company.
British Gas should accept that taking ‘fire and rehire ‘off the table is the only way to end this dispute.”
Gary Pearce, GMB London Region Senior Organiser 078 5003 6952
GMB London Region Press Office 079 7001 9643
Notes to editors
GMB London Region press release 22 January 2021