GMB

British gas workers strike again from 20 January

At a public online rally on 18 January for the British Gas engineers striking against “fire-and-rehire” attacks on their pay and conditions (see page 24), Paul Vowles, a British Gas striker from the West Midlands, said he was “bursting with pride” at the action he and his workmates have taken so far. He criticised British Gas bosses for “hiding behind the pandemic” in order to force through cuts. He also highlighted the effectiveness of the social media campaign in support of the dispute, especially messages of support from strikers’ families which emphasise the impact the proposed new...

Class Power on Zero Hours

The book is the culmination of six years of “getting rooted” in Greenford in West London. It documents in workers’ enquiry style some key jobs and the lives of the supporters and organisers of the Angry Workers of the World (AWW) have been doing while based in an area of West London that has an extensive history of class struggle, but not an area of London that is heavily populated by the organised left. It also seeks to lay down a kind of manifesto or programme for others to consider “getting rooted” as well. The editors even included this Trotskyist’s reflection on working in a library out...

British Gas out again from 20 January

British Gas workers will strike again on 20, 22, 25, 29 January, and 1 February. Engineers in the GMB union are resisting attempts by Centrica, British Gas’s parent company, to sack workers en masse and rehire them on worse terms and conditions. Workers estimate that the new terms would lead to engineers working up to an additional 156 hours unpaid each year. Despite insisting the new contracts are a financial necessity, Centrica recorded operating profits of £901 million in 2019, and an adjusted operating profit of £229 million in the six months to 30 June 2020 on the domestic heating side of...

Support British gas workers!

British Gas workers struck from 7-11 January, resisting their employer’s attempts to level down conditions by sacking workers en masse and rehiring them on worse contracts. The strike was extremely solid, with activists reporting that its strength grew as it went on. The workers’ union, GMB, is set to announce further strikes. Workers’ morale is high, bolstered by significant engagement with and support for the strike via social media. Workers report numerous instances of self-employed gas contractors committing on social media to take no work on British Gas strike days. British Gas bosses are...

Support British Gas strikers

British Gas engineers are due to strike from 7-11 January, as they fight to stop Centrica, British Gas’s parent company, forcing its workforce onto worse terms and conditions. Workers voted for industrial action by a nine-to-one majority, and thousands have attended online events to build the campaign. A GMB referendum on the proposed new contracts saw the terms rejected by an 86% majority. The section of the affected workforce organised by GMB and in the dispute is comprised of electricians, smart-meter installers, and engineers repairing, servicing, and installing boilers in residential and...

British gas workers fight "fire and rehire"

The GMB union has announced plans to ballot its members in British Gas for industrial action, after bosses refused to withdraw a plan to sack 20,000 workers en masse and rehire them on worse terms and conditions. A union statement said a “a national strike in the gas industry is weeks away” unless British Gas, now owned by the multinational firm Centrica, backed down from the fire-and-rehire plan. The union has yet to announce a timetable for the formal ballot. An indicative ballot in August returned a 95% majority in favour of action.

GMB reform falling far short

Warren Kenny, London Regional Secretary of the GMB union, will take over as the union’s Acting General Secretary (AGS) on 16 November. Tim Roache, re-elected General Secretary last November, resigned in April. A subsequent investigation into the GMB, conducted by Karon Monaghan QC, found that bullying, cronyism, misogyny, sexual harassment and untrammelled bureaucratic diktat were rife in the union. Wales and South-West Regional Secretary John Phillips was appointed AGS in place of Roache. But Phillips is retiring next month. Hence the appointment of a new AGS, pending the outcome of the...

Scottish Labour - why did GMB abstain?

On the eve of the 12 September 2020 meeting of the Scottish Labour Party Executive Committee, Gary Smith, Regional Secretary of the GMB union, announced that the GMB would be abstaining on the motion of ‘no confidence’ in leader Richard Leonard. “Richard Leonard’s Own Union Refuses To Back Him Ahead of Leadership Vote,” read the headlines in the Scottish press. According to Smith: “At a time like this, our members would not thank us for getting bogged down in an internal Scottish Labour party issue, a party for which many of them no longer vote for.” “Bogged down”? But all the two GMB...

GMB: investigate the charges!

The GMB union and the wider labour movement must act on the findings of the investigation by Karon Monaghan QC, which found that the GMB is institutionally sexist. The union began an independent investigation in May into sexual harassment in the GMB, after announcing it had received an anonymous letter accusing General Secretary Tim Roache of “sexist and aggressive” behaviour towards women. The report found women are under-represented throughout the GMB’s ranks, and that bullying, misogyny, cronyism and sexual harassment are endemic within the GMB. The report tells of a senior official who has...

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