The British Gas dispute feels like the canary in the mine. That is not meant as a glib gas reference. The issues it has surfaced will be amplified as we emerge back into normality.
The British Gas battle has been raging for nine months. It’s tied to the company’s fire and rehire plan. They want 20,000 staff, including 7,500 engineers, who repair and service machines for more than 3.6 million customers, to accept new contracts. Unions say the terms are terrible and leave loyal, long-standing and experienced employees much worse off.
The company says that due to a changing market, it needs to take radical steps to survive. Whichever way this ends, it’s clear it’s not going to be very positive for all employees.
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And it’s not just private company employees impacted. The one per cent pay increase the Government offered nurses and other NHS staff several weeks ago was greeted with anger and a general sense of confusion. All that work at the hardest of times, for that reward?
The story may no longer be front-page news, but it hasn’t gone away. The nurses’ union has a £35m fighting fund ready for possible industrial action.