By Sophie Squire
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British Gas workers strike for a ninth day

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Issue 2740
British Gas workers on lively picket line in Leeds on Friday.
British Gas workers on a lively protest in Leeds on Friday. (Pic: Laura Miles)

British Gas workers took to picket lines and organised protests on their ninth day of strikes on Friday.

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.

This current round of strikes will continue on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

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

Dawn, a striking engineer in the area, 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 chanted, ”No way O’Shea,” on the steps of St. George’s Hall in Liverpool.

In Leicester workers also gathered on picket lines. Colin is the Midlands and east coast GMB regional organiser. He 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.”

British Gas workers return to strikes to beat back bosses’ assault
British Gas workers return to strikes to beat back bosses’ assault
  Read More

Online the public showed their disgust with how British Gas is treating workers.

One Twitter user wrote, “Stop fire and rehire now. Repulsive behaviour at the best of times, let alone during Covid-19.”

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 are out on strike.

But Dan, a GMB rep in South Yorkshire, says this isn’t true. “British Gas has said that 83 percent of workers have signed the new contract,” he said. 

“But 94 percent of service engineers have rejected this contract. 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.” 

After nine days of action workers are now planning more. The GMB has announced another three rounds of strikes that will mean its members will be on strike 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.”

Striker Colin added, “Striking any time is tough, but striking in a pandemic is even harder. It just shows the strength of feeling among the workers.”

The determination of British Gas workers to keep striking until they win is an important battle. All trade unionists should support this fight.

Send solidarity to British Gas workers here and Tweet messages of support with the hashtag #StopTheBritishGasFire

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