Socialist Worker

After British Gas sackings, unions must shift now

Issue No. 2750

British Gas workers remained determined to win throughout the strike but were let down by the trade union leadership.

British Gas workers remained determined to win throughout the strike but were let down by the trade union leadership. (Pic: Ray Forster)


This week saw the final sacking of British Gas workers who had refused a 15 percent pay cut and other assaults.

The dispute saw disgusting blackmail tactics being used by a profitable firm that wants to further enrich its shareholders and bosses. It’s another indictment of Tory Britain that firms can legally carry through such methods.

How did they get away with it? It wasn’t because workers refused to fight. They were scheduled to take their 43rd day of action this week. But at key moments the GMB union’s national leaders preferred negotiations to escalation and watered-down attempts of militancy.

There was verbal support for the strikers from other unions, the TUC union federation and Labour MPs. Even Labour leader Keir Starmer backed them.

Unions have to hit back after British Gas sackings
Unions have to hit back after British Gas sackings
  Read More

Everyone spoke of how ‘fire and rehire’ had to be stopped.

But the bitter truth is that no other union did anything. Even worse, some kept their members working at British Gas throughout the dispute. Where was the call for mass financial and physical support?

There wasn’t a demand for other trade unionists to act in solidarity with 7,000 workers. Tweets of support weren’t enough.

Workers have been forced to choose between the sack, leaving the firm, or a deal with much worse pay and conditions.

Workers have to act themselves and push trade union leaders to confront ‘fire and rehire’ or it will become a terrible norm.


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