Socialist Worker

Letters—British Gas is driving down our wages to boost profits

Issue No. 2672

BG

British Gas workers are facing huge pay cuts (Pic: Annasmith1986/WikCommons)


I’m writing on behalf of my colleagues from British Gas. British Gas sells energy and mechanical services.

The energy side is failing and the heating installation side is the most profitable, so they’re taking money from here to bail out energy.

To do this they’ve created a new schedule of rates (SOR) for every heating installation contractor.

Previously an hourly rate meant every install was a tailored price, which was quite fair.

The new rate means cuts of between 25 and 35 percent. For example, a job that would have been £300 is now around £200. This will have a huge impact on workers’ livelihoods. The customer is still being charged the same. So British Gas is making even more profit.

For some people, British Gas has been a career. A lot of contractors are ex-British Gas and many have been there 10-20 years, feeling like employees and part of the family.

It’s us that give customers confidence that they have an experienced person in their home. We are the face of British Gas.

These cuts have been so drastic that a lot of contractors are considering moving on or cutting their hours. New labour may come from agencies or recently qualified engineers, leaving concerns over safety and quality. Contractors across Britain have discussed a strike and the GMB union is looking into the unfairness of the pay cut.

British Gas threatened to close contractors’ diaries unless they agreed to the new contract.

Some reluctantly agreed, feeling they are held over a barrel.

But many are refusing to agree and will simply walk out.

A joint contractor email was sent to management but they have not responded.

British Gas has a cheerful advertising campaign with the motto, “We’re with you!”

But it is considerably less so with its own workforce.

A British Gas worker


Honour for Geoffrey Boycott is a disgrace

Some years ago Theresa May famously wore a T-shirt reading, “This is what a feminist looks like.” 

Yet she has awarded former cricketer Geoffrey Boycott a knighthood. 

Boycott was convicted in May 2000 by a French court of assault on his then partner Margaret Moore in 1998. 

Her bloodied and bruised face is there for all to see in photographs of the assault.

Boycott was given a three-month suspended sentence and a measly fine.

Labour’s Dawn Butler, shadow minister for women and equalities, has correctly demanded that Boris Johnson immediately withdraw the knighthood.

Everyone should flood politicians and the media with complaints.

Boycott’s knighthood sends a horrific message to thousands of women who suffer violent abuse at the hands of men they know.

Added to this is the drastic reduction in funding for refuge support services under years of Tory austerity.

It is not possible for any Tory to claim any sort of feminist values. Feminism cares about women and children. The Tories do not. 

We have a government of perpetrators of all forms of oppression. 

We must have a general election and vote for a Labour government lead by Jeremy Corbyn, who has more feminist values than any Tory woman! We must take to the streets to end Tory rule.

Liz Kitching

Leeds


McDonnell’s ‘Right To Buy’ plan is no solution

Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s proposals for a “Right To Buy for Private Housing Tenants” has caused a debate.

Most people do not understand the principles and the purpose of this proposal. 

Recently I became aware of situation where a disabled person’s housing benefit had covered enough to buy the property outright.

The property’s disrepair was shocking. But the person’s benefit entitlement had also covered enough money for repairs.

This person would benefit from McDonnell’s proposal. Housing associations have the right to buy property.

However, why would they do so and then pay for all the repairs? 

At the moment all power lies with the landlord.

McDonnell should go further—and ensure immediate ownership to the social housing sector. 

Mark Porciani 

Glasgow


Basic income can’t replace key services

It is good to see Socialist Worker reporting on the desperate state of the social care system (Social care is ‘on the brink’, 4 September).

The system has suffered many years of systematic privatisation and underinvestment.

Age UK’s Caroline Abrahams is right to note that one of the consequences is that older people are more and more left to “fend for themselves”. This is also a huge problem for many disabled people.

Abrahams welcomed a report by Guy Standing on piloting a Universal Basic Income at its launch earlier this year.

But sadly she celebrated the worrying idea that a basic income would allow people to care for family members.

Throwing even more pressure back on the family to provide care would further undermine the right of people to access professional social support. It would leave people at the mercy of their families’ personal circumstances.

A serious approach is needed, not fantasies about what small cash transfers and a reheated version of David Cameron’s “big society” can achieve. 

Mark Dunk

South London


Thanks for post support

One of your guys gave me a paper at our CWU union gate meeting in Hove last week.

I just wanted to say thanks for that and for coming to support us.

I will buy the next edition now to support you.

Post worker

Brighton


Election now or a bit later?

An election right now would be an act of

self-harm for Labour.

You’re in an echo chamber if you think it wouldn’t be.

Gemma Cade

On Facebook

  • The support of presumably left Labour supporters for the Corbyn position reflects the lack of a radical insurgent campaign by Labour.

Tony Horne

On Facebook

  • For all our sakes, let’s vote the Tory toffs out and get a socialist government in ASAP.

Paul Harris

On Facebook


Can we have global unions?

While passing through Stansted airport on the first day of Ryanair's second pilots’ strike, I was struck by the large number of Ryanair planes flying as normal.

Workers’ unity is their greatest weapon. They need to be at least as broadly organised as their employers.

National unions will be increasingly powerless against multinational capital unless they develop international links.

John Shemeld

Nottingham


Don’t fall for lies on crime

The media, a right wing propaganda machine, sensationalises knife and gun crime to promote fear and racism.

They heighten the idea that crime is out of control. Then the government says it will increase police numbers.

The real criminals are those who justify a system of inequality and war.

Lambski

Bournemouth


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