Nick West is trade unionist and Havering resident who sits on the London, Eastern and South East Trade Union Congress Executive Committee as Youth Representative. Today, he writes in the Havering Daily.
Last year, British Airways were one of the first companies to use the pandemic to try to dismantle their workers pay, terms and conditions and now another company who claim to fly the British flag is trying to do the same. British Gas.
Fire and rehire is a totally immoral loophole in employment law that allows a process of companies firing, often longstanding, workers and then hire them on a new contract with less pay and less rights are work. It’s totally inexcusable and is a kick in the teeth to workers who have continued to show their loyalty and commitment to their company in the midst of the worse pandemic in our lifetime.
British Gas workers, represented by GMB Union have therefore taken industrial action to “Stop the British Gas Fire” which has already led to an estimated 100,000 UK homes awaiting service. By refusing to listen to his workers boss Chris O’Shea is letting both workers and customers down. After weeks of condemnation from all sides of the political spectrum, it’s time for him to drop fire and rehire and then get back around the negotiating table.
Despite the stress of their own situation, British Gas workers have used their time on strike to volunteer for good causes such as local food banks and organising litter picks in their local community.
British Gas are unlike retailers or those in the hospitality industry which are really struggling at the moment. They heat homes which is still a big part of our day to day lives. In fact on 30th June 2020, they announced profits had gone up 27% compared to the year previous. So why are they doing this?
Greed. Pure and simple. The board is comprised of millionaires who despite their millions, are using a pandemic to squeeze even more money out of their workforce and into their own pockets.
My message to them is simple: stop your greed, listen to your workers and drop this damaging policy before further disruption occurs.