The Workers Party of Britain denounces the attempt by Centrica to use the threat of sacking to bounce its engineers and service staff into new and inferior contracts, and salutes the decision of GMB members to resist, planning strike action in January.
Since 2015, Centrica, the owner of British Gas, has already wiped out 12,500 jobs in a bid to slash labour costs and beef up profits. Now a further 5,000 jobs have been lost, including some management posts, and Centrica bosses are making use of the climate of fear thus generated to try to force workers to swallow inferior contracts which could see pay cuts of as much as 10%.
Nearly half of Centrica’s 20,000 British workers are in the GMB. In a GMB ballot on the new contracts, 89% of the votes cast were in favour of strike action in the new year, defying the company’s ‘fire and rehire’ bully-boy tactics.
Disgracefully, management responded to the positive ballot result by threatening to sack anybody who failed to buckle under by Christmas.
The Workers Party of Britain warmly applauds the stand being taken by GMB members, and urges their fellow workers in Unison and Unite to follow their lead, giving no credence to the weasel words uttered by CEO Chris O’Shea.
O’Shea can wheedle all he likes that “change is critical to our future sustainability and protecting jobs at Centrica – and by doing so – helping to reposition the company for growth”. But it is not up to workers to sacrifice their own class interests in order to rescue Centrica from the capitalist crisis.
On the contrary, it is our job to unite as a class to resist all efforts to intimidate us into paying for their crisis.
Workers are not to blame if it turns out that Centrica’s market share is eroding under pressure from its rivals, or that oil prices are at rock bottom, or that the government is imposing a regulatory price cap.
This state of affairs was not caused by workers, and workers are right to rebel against all efforts to make them carry the can.