THE GMB union has suspended strikes by 6,000 gas safety engineers. Bosses offered workers at Transco, the privatised monopoly that runs the gas pipeline network, a pay rise of just 3 percent. This was conditional on changes to hours, allowances and sick pay that would have cancelled out the pay rise.
The engineers threw out the deal on a vote of 5,700 to 60. The GMB was claiming a 5 percent increase with no other changes to pay or conditions. But it suspended the strikes when Transco agreed to binding arbitration. The union had a huge mandate for calling strike action from the gas engineers. The planned strikes would have had an impact, with up 18 million homes possibly affected.
But the union has thrown away the chance to show its power. Opting for arbitration could lead to a worse deal being imposed on them.