Socialist Worker

British Gas strikers are resolute

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2740

Firefighters support the British Gas strikers in Stockport

Firefighters support the British Gas strikers in Stockport (Pic: Mike Killian)


British Gas workers completed their eleventh day of strikes on Monday.

Thousands of GMB union members are fighting plans by parent company Centrica to rehire workers on more hours, less pay and worse terms and conditions.

In Leeds over 50 workers picketed in small socially distanced groups outside British Gas headquarters.

Dawn, a striking engineer, said, “We’ve got to say no, we’ve got to fight back against this.

“We’re looking for support. It’s good to know that the people out there understand what we are fighting for,” she added.

Sending a message to Centrica chief executive Chris O’Shea, workers on the steps of St. George’s Hall in Liverpool chanted, “No way O’Shea.”

In Leicester workers also gathered on picket lines. Midlands and east coast GMB regional organiser Colin Todd told Socialist Worker, “The mood on the pickets is good and more people are coming out every time.

“It was minus four degrees on one of the strike days last week but people still came out to picket.” The strike has got British Gas and Centrica worried. They have tried to downplay the situation and have suggested only a small proportion of the workforce is on strike.

Smoke

But Dan, a GMB rep in South Yorkshire, says this isn’t true. “94 percent of service engineers have rejected this contract,” he said. “You can see by the picket lines that more workers are out. It’s definitely more than the 17 percent the company claims. It’s the company using smoke and mirrors.”

The GMB has announced another three rounds of strikes—four days a week until 1 March.

And workers say they are ready to keep going.

British Gas engineer Scott wrote on Twitter, “I’m not going to lie, with the wife on maternity, and like many others, money will be tight but nothing will stop me striking.”

Dawn added, “If British Gas gets away with this, lots of other companies are going to follow.”

It’s important to put extra pressure on the bosses.

Every trade unionist should support the strikers and invite speakers to online union meetings.

Unions in different sections have recently signed deals with British Gas.

That should not have been done while engineers and others were fighting. Those sections need to find new ways to declare disputes.

If British Gas bosses don’t back down, the strike should escalate to indefinite action. Collections and donations to a strike fund will be vital.

Send support to bit.ly/BGsolidarity

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