British Gas engineers continue strike action with Sunderland picket line in ‘fire and rehire’ row
British Gas engineers have been on the picket line in Seaham as they continue strike action throughout March in a dispute over pay and conditions.
British Gas engineers have launched a fresh wave of strikes after overwhelmingly rejecting an offer aimed at resolving the dispute
The GMB said its members had voted by almost 4-1 against a revised offer, and walked out on Friday for four days.
British Gas workers were on the picket line on the Dalton Park roundabout, just off the A19, from 11am to 1pm on Friday and will return on Monday as the strike continues.
National officer Justin Bowden said: “A revised British Gas offer at Acas for the field staff bargaining group has been overwhelmingly rejected by GMB members in a very big vote.
“Strike days 27 to 30 will go ahead, followed by action for the rest of this month.
“British Gas didn’t take ‘fire and rehire’ off the table, the main obstacle to a possible settlement.
“This huge vote to reject the offer by gas and electrical engineers shows that there will be no resolution until the company does so.”
Chris O’Shea, chief executive of British Gas owners Centrica, said: “There is a job for everyone at the end of this difficult process, but we must change.
"Over 80% of our workforce have agreed to the new terms and understand that our company needs to adapt to protect 20,000 UK jobs.
“Whilst we’ve reached collective agreements with the majority of our trade unions, we have been unable to secure an agreement with the GMB despite two extensive rounds of talks and making significant concessions.
“We’ll now talk directly to those colleagues who have not yet agreed their new contracts and we will go the extra mile to try and avoid the need to dismiss and re-engage.”
The chief executive said he hoped remaining colleagues will choose to stay with British Gas and said that the company has a ‘responsibility to reverse our decline and protect and grow jobs.’
He added: "This includes the recruitment of an additional 1,000 engineering apprentices that we can now take on as a result of making changes to our contracts.”