THE GMB union was to serve notice this week of an official strike ballot of 8,000 members at British and Scottish Gas. It is in protest at attacks on jobs and conditions.
Sites at Stockport, Edinburgh, Uddingston near Glasgow, Leicester, Leeds, Cardiff, Oldbury in West Midlands and Southampton are thought to be in the firing line.
Some 95 percent of GMB members at the companies have already voted, in a consultative ballot, for a formal ballot for industrial action.
An email from top manager Phil Bentley reveals the extent to which the company is prepared to go to cut costs.
It concerns the newly-formed One British Gas (OBG), which brings together British Gas Energy, British Gas Services and British Gas Business.
Bentley writes, “I’m committed to taking a one off axe to the overheads that have been built up over the years...
“The formation of OBG gives us the one off air cover to do this, this year…It may also be time to shift some dead wood where it makes sense.”
Gary Smith, GMB national secretary for energy, said senior management are in denial about the mood amongst workers.
He believes staff anger has been fuelled by the long hours they have been working to keep services running during the coldest winter in years.
“We think Mr. Bentley is hell bent on conflict with his employees,” says Smith.