Nearly 500 British Gas engineers lost their jobs yesterday after refusing to sign new contracts which will reportedly cut their pay by around 15 per cent.
British Gas owner Centrica told various media last night that around 2 per cent of its staff had chosen not to sign the new contracts, though it refused to give precise numbers as they could still change.
“We are modernising the way we work to give our customers the service they want and protect the future of our company and our 20,000 colleagues,” a spokesman for Centrica said earlier.
“The vast majority of our employees have agreed to the new terms, which are fair and very competitive. We’re not changing base salaries or pensions.”
“Our gas service engineers remain some of the best-paid in the sector, on £40,000 a year minimum,” he added.
The GMB union has condemned the “mass sackings” of engineers amid a long-running dispute with Centrica over pay and conditions.
GMB said strike action would continue, adding previous strikes have led to a huge backlog of services and emergency repairs.
GMB national officer Justin Bowden condemned the lost jobs as a “low point” in the dispute.
“That British Gas doesn’t give a toss for either customers or staff is shown by the mass sackings of engineers it needs so badly for customer services that it has suspended the sale of boiler insurance cover.
A company spokesman added in a statement to The Guardian: “While change is difficult, reversing our decline, – which has seen us lose over three million customers, cut over 15,000 jobs and seen profits halved over the last 10 years – is necessary.”