British Gas Industrial Action Update

26 Mar 2010

“The national trade union side has again reiterated publicly our call for an independent third party to investigate what exactly has gone wrong in terms of an increasingly bullying management culture, pressure being heaped on industrial staff, and with employee relations generally.
We have always said that it is not GMB’s desire to impact British Gas customers.  If we wanted to, we could have called action at the height of the coldest winter in decades.  We did not because, understandably, it would have been a major concern for customers and particularly the elderly and vulnerable.
After discussions between the General Secretary Paul Kenny, the national shop stewards and myself, we have agreed that we will give the company a further opportunity to start addressing the issues of concern.  It is essential we continue to take the moral high ground and resist any rush into further action.  If the company does not take up the offer from the trade union for meaningful talks, and support the principle of bringing in an independent third party to carry out an enquiry into what has gone so wrong, it will expose those in the management regime who are hell bent on conflict with the workforce as we fear.
We will be giving management 7 days to progress talks in a meaningful way prior to serving any notice of industrial action.  In addition to this 7 days grace being afforded by the union, the law says we need to give the company 7 days notice of our intention to take action.  We are seeking facilities for a meeting of the national 21 shop stewards as a matter of urgency.
We are aware that the company has been trying to draft in large numbers of contractors for a possible strike day on 31st March.  Given that there will not be a strike on 31st March, it is a pity the company has apparently been putting so much time, and presumably money, into seeking to bring in contractors rather than focusing on trying to find a resolution to the dispute.
A direct mailing will be going to members outlining the position in the next few days.  Members should be under no illusions about the national trade union’s preparedness to act on the mandate given by members in the ballot if we do not get a reasonable response from the company.”