Nearly 6,000 GMB union members working as British Gas engineers have voted by four to one to strike over pensions.
British Gas’s parent company, Centrica, intends to close the engineers’ final salary scheme to new starters from January. This is the only the second time that workers have voted to take action to defend the pensions rights of their future work colleagues.
British Gas/Centrica intends to offer new starters an inferior pension that would enable the company to halve its contributions. Shop stewards were meeting this week to decide when action will take place.
The GMB represents 95 percent of the workforce. They are responsible for domestic work (not gas mains) and carry out three million boiler services and three million breakdown visits a year as well as installing central heating systems.
Two years ago British Gas/Centrica gave employees the right to choose to close their schemes or to pay an increased contribution rate to keep them open. This was done in a formal vote and British Gas/Centrica promised to abide by the result.
The engineers voted overwhelmingly to keep their scheme open and pay an extra 1 percent of their wages in contributions. British Gas/Centrica is now reneging on that agreement.