Centrica staff get contracts ultimatum
THE owner of British Gas has issued an ultimatum to more than 21,000 staff: accept new contracts or you could lose your jobs.
It comes after Centrica said last month that it would be axing about 5,000 jobs after years of declining customer numbers and shrinking profits. It also said at the time it would work with staff to “simplify” terms and conditions for employees.
The company said yesterday that measures to terminate employees before re-engaging them on fresh terms, known as an s.188 notice, remain a “last resort”. Unions hit out at the plan. Justin Bowden, national secretary of the GMB union which has more than 10,000 members at the company, said: “On top of the 5,000 job losses announced in June, Centrica now wants to make cuts to pay and terms and conditions.”
However, the company insisted pay packs were not being cut.
A Centrica spokesman said: “Base pay and pensions will be protected but simplifying and modernising their terms is essential if we’re to become more flexible and price competitive.”
Talks between Centrica and the unions appeared to collapse yesterday. Mr Bowden added: “It remains to be seen whether... Centrica has the ability to negotiate.”
Centrica said: “We want to continue with constructive talks and the s.188 notice provides an option of last resort if it turns out we can’t work together to achieve this. We understand the impact this will have on colleagues and this is not an option we want to use but we must make these changes and we must conclude these talks before the winter period.”