GMB workers firm in standing up to fire and rehire

“This is about putting profits over people” said one GMB striker at the British Gas workers demonstration in Leeds, summarising the nature of the dispute, now in its 13th day of strike action.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

Friday 5th February at 12noon was the deadline given to workers before moving on to one-to-one ‘consultations’ where further refusal to sign the new detrimental contracts will lead to workers being given 4 or 12 weeks notice depending on length of service.

Around 60 workers and supporters from across Yorkshire gathered for a socially distanced march at the British Gas call centre in Holbeck, Leeds. A car cavalcade drive round nearby streets as well.

Striking British Gas workers – photo Iain Dalton

Usually British Gas would book 20,000 jobs a day, during the strike, they are only managing 4,000, including the roughly 2,000 emergency call outs each day (which the strikers are providing emergency cover to ensure such call outs are dealt with).

At a select committee hearing, Centrica boss Chris O’Shea admitted that issuing the s188 fire and rehire notice was based on faulty legal advice and was regrettable. But he is still pressing on and attempting to implement it.

Under the logic of capitalism, then bosses like O’Shea are driven to increase their profits and the returns to shareholders as their priority regardless of the impact on their often loyal workforces or customers.

Socialist Party members sitting the strike – photo Iain Dalton

If capitalism can’t afford to pay workers properly, then we can’t afford capitalism!

The s188 notices should be immediately withdrawn, but to prevent further attacks, British Gas should be brought into public ownership under democratic workers control and management, so the wealth generated by these workers can be used to defend and improve their pay and conditions and ensure that customers have a reliable and affordable service.

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