GMB

Keep up pressure on British Gas

British Gas engineers struck again from 19-22 February, in an ongoing battle to prevent their employer from dismissing its workforce en masse and rehiring them on worse conditions. The strikes succeeded in eliciting a new offer from British Gas, which was due to be issued to workers on Wednesday 24 February, and voted on over the weekend of 26-27 February. As Solidarity went to press on 23 February, strikes planned for 26 February-1 March were still due to take place. A previous round of strikes, due for 12-15 February, were called off, after British Gas agreed to further talks at conciliation...

Call for 10% rise in local government pay

Significantly later than usual, on 16 February, Unison, GMB, and Unite, the three unions who have negotiating rights for local government workers, including non-teaching staff in schools, have submitted a pay claim for a minimum 10% increase for all grades from April 2021. We have lost almost a quarter of our pay in real terms since 2010; as frontline workers we have continued to work through the pandemic; and the lowest paid have now fallen below the real living wage (as defined by the Living Wage Foundation). The claim also includes a demand for home working expenses, a reduction in the...

Workers, trade unions and climate politics

Calvin Lawson - an RMT rep in Newcastle, part of the RMT Environmental Action Group, and co-lead on trade union strategy for Labour for a Green New Deal - spoke to Solidarity. Our trade union group within Labour for a Green New Deal is working with local groups to establish union link officers who can connect with trades councils, union branches and so on to support workers’ struggles but also take up environmental questions. We’ve organised some roadshows to encourage discussion and engagement, for instance in the North East where I’m based and working with Unison in the Manchester area. That...

Don't let British gas off the hook

The GMB union called off strikes of British Gas engineers planned for 12-15 February, after British Gas agreed to further negotiations over the terms of a new contract the company plans to introduce. GMB activists report that British Gas said it would “suspend” its “fire and rehire” threat, according to which any worker who has not signed up to the new contracts by 31 March faces dismissal. The exact meaning of this “suspension” is unclear. In practical terms it may simply mean that, if talks are still ongoing on 31 March, the deadline will be extended to allow them to continue. It clearly...

GMB choice cramped by rules

The election of a new General Secretary for the big general union GMB is underway. Anyone wanting to stand has until the beginning of April to obtain at least 30 branch nominations. Voting runs from the beginning of May until the beginning of June. The usual rules apply. No one seeking nominations and no one standing as a candidate is allowed to “address any meeting of any branch (including his/her own branch) or Region or Section of the Union or any meeting of any kind whether held in a workplace or elsewhere” in order to seek support. Phone canvassing, whether by landline or mobile, is not...

Gas engineers will strike through February

British Gas engineers continued their strikes against their bosses’ “fire and rehire” threat from 5-8 February. Their union, GMB, has announced further strikes on 12-15, 19-22 February, and 26 February to 1 March. There have been 17 strike days so far, leading to a backlog of over 170,000 boiler repairs and more than 200,000 delayed service visits. The strikes have remained solid throughout, with well-supported pickets and demonstrations taking place on a safely-distanced basis throughout the country. 2 February saw British Gas CEO Chris O’Shea called to Parliament, along with GMB National...

Gas engineers' battle steps up

British Gas engineers struck for a 12th time on Monday 1 February, as they continue their struggle to force their employer to impose new contracts via a “fire and rehire” threat. Strikes have remained solid and effective. A statement from the GMB union said that strikes “have now led to a repair backlog of more than 150,000 homes, with 200,000 routine annual boiler service visits cancelled so far this month.” Workers have held safely-distanced protests and pickets at sites around the country, including at British Gas’s headquarters in Leeds. The next strikes are due 5-8 February. Bosses at...

British Gas: revolt against 15% pay cut

British Gas workers’ strikes against their employer’s plan to worsen its workers terms and conditions by sacking them en masse and re-engaging them on new contracts continued on 22 and 25 January, with further strikes planned on 29, 30, 31 January, and 1 February. More strikes are expected after that. Although bosses at Centrica, British Gas’s parent company, claim that “base pay and pensions are protected” under the new terms, British Gas workers say they face a real-terms pay cut of up to 15% in the hourly rate, in part because of the imposition of additional hours. Some workers could face...

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...

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