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From The Socialist newspaper, 27 January 2021

British Gas engineers continue strike against fire-and-rehire plans

Leicester picket line of British Gas engineers, striking for five days to maintain their present working conditions and pay, 8 January 2021, photo Leicester SP

Leicester picket line of British Gas engineers, striking for five days to maintain their present working conditions and pay, 8 January 2021, photo Leicester SP   (Click to enlarge)

Leicester

"This is a pivotal moment for workers in this country. If this happens at British Gas, if they are allowed to fire and rehire their workforce on worse terms and conditions, the contract of employment for every worker in the country is not worth the paper it's written on.

"You need to support this because you could be next. There are companies watching what is going on at British Gas at the moment with keen intent, because if it goes through here, they will be coming for you next."

Paul Carvell, British Gas engineers' GMB union shop steward, spoke to the Socialist on the picket line at Aylestone Road, Leicester during their ongoing strike action.

"The company thought we would be wilting by now, but the opposite is happening. We are getting more and more support and media coverage. Trade unionists are seeing what is happening, and are realising this could be a tactic used by other employers."

After an 89% vote for strike action, British Gas engineers are carrying through their ten days of strike action announced so far. These workers have kept people's homes warm throughout the pandemic and have been rewarded with a vicious attack on their hard-won conditions. Many have worked for British Gas for decades, but their loyalty to their customers in not matched by their profiteering bosses. Essential workers who are risking their health are seeing big business and the Tory government treat them with contempt. And at the same time, the GMB union has revealed British Gas board members have raked in 37 million from outside work.

The trade union movement as a whole needs to stand up and fight like these workers. We need to campaign for privatised industries to be renationalised under democratic control in order that they can be planned for the benefit of all.

Steve Score, Leicester Socialist Party

Southampton

GMB strikers protested in Southampton on 25 January at the brutal threat to fire and rehire British Gas workers if they don't sign new contracts that attack their pay and working conditions. Engineers were angry at the threat to their futures: "They want us to work an extra 156 hours a year for no extra money. It's come as a big shock to everyone. This strike is about the threat of being fired, if they get away with this who is next?"

Nick Chaffey, Southampton Socialist Party

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 27 January 2021:


News

Covid spreading, poverty rising, rich get richer, fight for socialism!

Health, Covid and the vaccine: It's a class issue

Poverty wages: When workers can't afford to self-isolate

Fees frozen at 9,250 a year, fight for free education

DVLA Covid outbreak: They only care about output and productivity

Jaguar Land Rover: West Midlands superspreader


Schools

Schools: 'We have to fight for everything'

Martin Powell-Davies for NEU DGS: "We need to use our collective strength"


What we think

Biden, Labour, and the need for a new mass workers' party


Workplace news

Sage care workers strike again: Billionaires refuse to pay up

Unison NEC elections: United left challenge needed to fight slaughter of jobs and services

Steel site scaffolders strike for the 'rate of the job'

Merseyside: DHL workers at Burton's Biscuits strike against half-baked pay deal and bullying bosses

British Gas engineers continue strike against fire-and-rehire plans

Low-paid hospital workers strike


NHS

Overwhelmed, underfunded, underpaid, and still fighting for safe PPE

Health worker cooperation in the face of the pandemic


Arab Spring

Ten years since the 'Arab Spring'


TUSC

TUSC is up and running for May elections

Come to the TUSC local elections conference - 7 February

Why I'm leaving Labour and campaigning for TUSC

Councillors in Surrey resign from Labour and look to stand independently


Campaigns

Solidarity meeting with Mohamud Hassan

Save Our Square from New Labour gentrification

Help fund a challenge to austerity at the ballot box - donate today!


International socialist news and analysis

Mass protests in Russia against Putin regime


Review

TV Review: It's a Sin

TV review: The Hidden Story of Disabled Britain


 

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Related links:

GMB:

triangleFight back against British Gas bosses' 'fire and rehire' offensive

triangleGMB general secretary election: A fighting, socialist leadership needed

triangleNew British Gas deadline and strike dates

triangleStrikers reject deal and carry on fighting

triangleBritish Gas strike

Strike:

triangleReaders' comments

triangleLeicester University workers strike against redundancies

triangleEngineers in fourth week of strike action

triangleTV review: Mrs Thatcher vs the miners

Gas:

triangleCadent Gas plans 200 job losses

triangleClimate change - Johnson spouts 'greenwash 2.0'

triangleBritish Gas workers strike ahead of 'fire and rehire' deadline

Fire:

triangleCladding safety: Protests took place around the country on 5 June highlighting the cladding crisis

triangleIf unions give a lead, workers are fully prepared to fight and win victories

Workers:

triangleSparks win victory!

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