AROUND 6,000 gas engineers have voted to go on strike for better pay. The engineers work for Transco, the privatised monopoly that runs the national gas pipe network. Transco offered them a 3 percent pay rise, conditional on changes to working hours and cuts in allowances and sick pay. The workers voted to reject the offer by 5,700 to 60. The vote for strike action was just as overwhelming.
Talks between Transco and the GMB union, which represents the engineers, broke down on Thursday of last week. If no deal is reached they could be on strike over the Christmas holiday. This could create a huge crisis. Either gas would be supplied with a dangerously small staff or the network would have to be closed down. Transco wants to make 400 engineers redundant.
Five years ago it made 1,000 workers redundant to save money. Last year, the company admitted it needed to recruit and train roughly 1,000 people. Serious allegations have recently been made about Transco's safety record.