Socialist Worker

Letters—British Gas workers suffer at hands of selfish bosses

Issue No. 2751

British Gas engineers have been on strike over fire and rehire plans

British Gas engineers have been on strike over fire and rehire plans (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Over the last five years British Gas has dumped on employees from the highest height with countless business area closures, restructures, shift changes and wage freezes.

British Gas told us 18 months before offices in Canal Street, Leeds, would close that our futures were uncertain. We were told we would be moved to New Bridge House in Leeds.

However there were not enough positions for everyone, so voluntary redundancy was offered.

We had two weeks to decide whether we wanted it or not. Those who opted for redundancy received the call to say it had been accepted.

People bought cars and booked holidays. Then around four weeks later we had a briefing from the big cheese saying all redundancy offers were withdrawn and cancelled. We had to stay on.

After British Gas sackings, unions must shift now
After British Gas sackings, unions must shift now
  Read More

Since then, British Gas has put us through three sets of shift changes and staff restructures. And it still leaves us hanging as to when or if we will be brought back into the office.

The new office has no parking, so people must use the park and ride or public transport to get there. This adds huge travel costs, on top of a wage freeze and benefits being cut.

The company has gone to the dogs. It treats staff like dirt. The majority of us have given 15 plus years of service.

To be continually treated this way makes us realise we are nothing to them. I am baffled at how, with two active unions in place that we pay for to protect us, nothing has been done.

The stress, anxiety and depression this company has put on the majority of its employee without batting an eyelid is criminal.

Seeing all the engineers handing their vans and tools back to be fired last Wednesday because they refused to reduce their contract is also criminal.

British Gas worker

By email


Don’t trust Tories on trans rights

Ministers recently announced that the charge placed on transgender people to legally change their gender has been lowered from £140 to £5.

This follows the promise of Tory equalities minister Liz Truss that the medical services facilitating transgender healthcare would be “kinder and more straightforward”.

However we must not forget that this reform is little more than posturing, allowing the Tories to pretend that they care for LGBT+ rights.

This change does nothing to address terrible waiting lists of gender identity clinics, which for many are longer than three years.

High Court decision over puberty blockers will put trans young people at risk
High Court decision over puberty blockers will put trans young people at risk
  Read More

And it’s at odds with the increasing number of transgender people who have given up on NHS provided care. This is because of the invasive questioning of clinicians and outrageous waiting times.

The latest move is at worse an attempt to cover up their ruthless attacks on transgender people.

And at best it goes to show how little they care for us by choosing to reform, but not scrap.

The Tories also decided to disband their LGBT+ advisory board, following three members resigning over the creation of a “hostile environment” by the government for LGBT+ people.

LGBT+ rights will only be secured through socialist struggle, not hollow capitalist reforms.

Sky Golding

Liverpool


Blame the system, not the shoppers

Casually shaming people for shopping at Primark and other cheaper high street brands reeks of classism and elitism.

The pandemic has increased food bank dependency by more than 60 percent, so it’s unfair to expect people to boycott these brands.

A lot of people rely on cheaper brands because they are being exploited by a system that doesn’t care about the needs of working class people.

There are no ethically sourced or sustainable brands that are affordable for people working for the pennies that the government classes as “living wage”.

Rather than targeting consumers on where they choose to shop, given the limited choices working class people have, judgement should be aimed at the brands.

They pay low wages and provide poor working conditions for their employees. Working class people are not the enemy. Capitalism is.

Lake O’Hora

Northamptonshire


Ethnicity does determine job chances

Recent reports from the Office for National Statistics have found that over 40 percent of black people aged 16–24 are unemployed.

These numbers are like those found before the 1981 Brixton riots, where one of the main sparks was racial discrimination in employment.

In comparison, among the same age group Asian unemployment now sits at 24 percent while white unemployment around half that figure at 13 percent.

It has also been found that ethnic minorities are more likely to be working in less secure jobs, such as zero hours contracts or cash in hand work.

The handling of the pandemic has hit jobs hard, and all sections of the working class suffer. But there is a clear racial disparity in who is more affected.

These numbers should not come as a surprise given the levels of institutional racism that exist in Britain.

While the recent government Sewell report has denied the existence of institutional racism, these numbers indicate the complete opposite.

Ethnic minorities are also more likely to be on the receiving end of police brutality, lower quality of education and lack of access to healthcare.

Harjeevan Gill

West London


Send paedo prince back

Has ever a more odious, self serving, grotesque, lying reptile ever graced this country? A truly vile individual.

Stuart Turner

On Facebook


Any attempt by the establishment to rehabilitate this odious waste of space must be resisted.

Mark Haffenden

On Facebook


They should have refused to televise him. I thought it was disgusting. Andrew is a vile piece of work and as yet an unconvicted paedophile. I think he will get away with it as he’s hardly going to hop on a plane to stand trial.

Mary Patricia

On Facebook


Tax the rich

It’s inconceivable that Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are as rich as they are.

Their wealth increases while many others have lost their jobs due to Covid-19 and are now using food banks to survive. Time to tax billionaires, maybe?

Pippa van Leeuwen

On Twitter


Hartlepool’s hospital hell

The Tories closed Hartlepool A&E in 2011, so those who need emergency care have to travel to about ten miles away. It’s a big issue for people in the town.

Labour’s candidate Paul Williams has made vague promises about “reviewing” and bringing services back to Hartlepool hospital.

In 2011, a lot of people didn’t feel Labour’s then-MP, Iain Wright, did much to help. Tony Blair’s Labour government wanted to close our hospital too. Is it any wonder people don’t trust Labour now?

Daniela Hall

Hartlepool


Kill the Bill

As many people as possible need to be out in force to support Kill the Bill. We cannot let the Tories win by taking away our protests and giving them to the police.

Katie Coles

Birmingham


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