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British Gas picket line in New Malden. Photo: Neda Radulovic-Viswanatha

British Gas picket line in New Malden. Photo: Neda Radulovic-Viswanatha

Workers at British Gas have begun a second round of strikes against the company's fire and rehire plan, reports Chris Neville

British Gas workers went back on strike from Wednesday to fight back against their employer's decision to tear up their terms and conditions using fire and rehire.

Gas engineers who are GMB members are staging another seven days of action on top of the initial five days they have already undertaken in January. The strikes will cover January 22, 25, 29, 30, 31 and February 1.

British Gas has told the workers they must sign their new contracts and voluntarily accept a reduction in their terms by March or be fired. But on Friday, the workers will take to social media to share videos and pictures of them burning the new contracts offered to them by British Gas.

Last week, GMB posted a leaked video of British Gas boss Matthew Bateman celebrating the fact that Covid-19 and US political upheaval had diverted media attention from the strikes.

The video, coupled with management jargon talking of 'net-net wins' led to GMB comparing Bateman to the Office's David Brent. But his comments in the video also reveal that British Gas management is worried about public support for the strikers.

They should be worried. A poll conducted by Unite last year showed that 70% of the public are against fire and rehire tactics being used by employers. As a result of this, the engineers have been able to gain widespread public support for their cause.

A further wave of strikes will pile pressure onto the management to enter into negotiations with the workers. The defiant act of burning the new contracts sends a clear message that these workers will not accept seeing their pay and conditions reduced.

GMB has reported that the strikes have led to an estimated 100,000 homes waiting for service across the country which adds operational pressures to British Gas. Opportunistic attempts by dodgy bosses to profiteer off the pandemic are rife and as the British Gas workers are showing - a worker's best tool to fight back is to strike!

Send messages of support to the strikers via GMB on Twitter, and if you can, go down to the pickets/protests happening in a number of cities on Friday morning at 10am.

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