British Gas engineers are striking for the fifth day, fully withdrawing their labour, after being provoked into industrial action over pay and conditions. The whole British Gas workforce has been threatened with being fired on mass, and then rehired on a much worse contract, if they don’t agree to new terms in their employment. 10,000 workers are on strike, and have been creatively forming safe, socially distanced picket lines using their work vans:
After 13yrs of service, Mr O'shea is sacking me on 31st March if I don’t agree and sign his new contract on significantly worse terms. Less pay, more hours and ￼fewer benefits. No redundancy, no choice. Fire + rehire is morally wrong and soul destroying #StopTheBritishGasFire pic.twitter.com/zi69XznSSY
— pete howis (@HowisPete) January 8, 2021
Another striking worker explained why the strike is so important:
This is what the strike at British Gas is all about.
— GMB Union (@GMB_union) January 6, 2021
There’s been massive public support for the British Gas workers as they take action against corporate bullying. People have used social media to show solidarity, while others have threatened to change their energy provider:
For everyone wanting to leave BG, definitely switch to @octopus_energy as they are awesome! – (and if you really want, get £50 off with my 'refer a friend' link https://t.co/LyXsGpor2z 😁) #betterenergy. Maybe they can hire you Pete? They seem like a great company!
— Ellie Mackay (@EllieWorldwide) January 10, 2021
Day 5 of the british gas strike. During this pandemic engineers have knowingly entered customers properties that were covid positive to keep their heating & appliances working. Their reward for that is to be fired & rehired on much worse terms & conditions #stopTheBritishGasFire pic.twitter.com/1eolfOlHoc
— Kevin Kerr (@KevinKe88375449) January 11, 2021
An increasingly common tactic
Fire and rehire, already used by British Airways bosses, is increasingly becoming the weapon of choice for big business bosses who are hellbent on making the working class pay a terrible price for the Coronavirus crisis, which in itself exacerbated the systemic crisis of a capitalist system rooted in maximisation of profit through minimisation of wages, conditions and public services.
British Airways has had a long-running dispute with unions over ‘fire and rehire’ policies, with employees launching a series of strikes.
Meanwhile, workers across the country have argued that the tactic has also been used on them:
This is exactly what @asda has done to its colleagues. I had to quit after 15 years of service. My partner still works there & had to take Xmas & new year off as "unpaid holidays" on the new contract.
— Holz1 (@Holz1_LPsoldier) January 9, 2021
All the big supermarkets have done this recently with all their staff/ management it happened to me either sign your nes contract or leave and the unions just sit back and let them do it
— paul benstead (@homerastra) January 9, 2021
As a Teaching Assistant threatened with fire and rehire a few years ago, I’m totally behind you and your colleagues. I haven’t forgotten the feeling of betrayal when our employer ripped up contracts saying: if you don’t like it, tough. Sending solidarity to you & your colleagues.
— Megan charlton (@Charlton101M) January 9, 2021
Show solidarity with the workers
GMB Union is asking members of the public to add their signature of solidarity with the workers, while at the same time calling on Chris O’Shea, chief executive of Centrica, which owns British Gas to call off his fire and rehire threats.
And as the strike enters its fifth and final day, a Twitterstorm is planned to ‘set Twitter alight’:
— #StopTheBritishGasFire (@Dave_Burns_) January 10, 2021
Together we must support the British Gas strikers, while also making bigger demands that policies of ‘fire and refire’ are made illegal for good.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?