British Gas beacon, Gorleston British Gas beacon, Gorleston. Photo: Keith Evans / Geograph / CC BY-SA 2.0, license linked at bottom of article

British Gas is planning to ‘fire and rehire’ its employees on worsened terms and conditions and to end union recognition, reports Chris Neville

Thousands of employees at British Gas are amongst the latest in a long line of workers to find their pay and conditions under threat. The Centrica-owned energy supplier is planning to use ‘fire and rehire’ tactics to drive down redundancy and sick pay as well as extend working hours.

British Gas workers are represented by Unison, Unite and GMB nationally. Earlier this year, the parent company announced 5,000 job losses as it struggled to compete with newer energy firms and saw an all-time low share price amid reduced energy usage due to the coronavirus.

Rather than face up to the fact that years of mismanagement and unsustainable acquisitions have led to this point, Centrica is now seeking to shift the burden to its employees.

Unison press release says that not only is the company is looking to use ‘fire and rehire’ to reduce terms, it has also served notice to end union recognition. This two-pronged attack on workers comes less than a month after the newly appointed management reportedly team took advantage of the low share price by snapping up over £100k’s worth of shares.

GMB members recently voted 95% in favour of industrial action. Unison is organising its members and intends to hold a ballot. A recent Unison newsletter to British Gas workers, ‘Don’t be bullied by British Gas‘, lays out the key details.

‘Fire and rehire’ has become a common tactic amongst workplace disputes in recent months as many companies seek to shift coronavirus-related earnings losses on to their workforce. British Airways and British Gas have been amongst the most high profile examples. Calls to ban the practice have received backing from SNP, Lib Dem and Labour MPs recently.

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