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Latest update for GMB members in British Gas

Latest update for GMB members in British Gas

Date: 21/07/2021

New deal for British Gas Field Services staff

Following the acceptance of the offer by the membership by a margin of over three to one, please see the details of the new offer below which will come into effect from 1st August 2021.

Whilst this deal does not restore members terms and conditions to those they enjoyed prior to the dispute, it does provide a way forward and represents an improvement to the terms members signed up to when they agreed individual contracts as an alternative to dismissal earlier this year. This deal was put to the membership as an alternative to further strike action and was endorsed by over 75% in an externally run ballot. GMB will continue to push for more improvements over the coming years with the long term goal of at least restoring members terms and conditions to those enjoyed prior to  dispute.

The main points of the deal are:

EA/Call Out

The rate at which EA/Call out is paid has increased to time and a half. This is in addition to the £25 payment per EA shift and the £10 disturbance payment per customer. We have also secured a cap on the number of EA/Call Out shifts that can be rostered to two per month and have agreed for the previous S&R sleep time agreement to be reinstated. Further agreement to avoid rostering EA/Call Out on rest days (including the periods going into and out of rest days) has been reached. Over time the company expects the requirement to undertake EA/Call Out to reduce in line with recruitment. To assist this process, they are proposing a £3,000 sign on bonus to attract new recruits in areas where they are struggling to fill vacancies.

Overtime

All overtime to paid at the 150% rate (time and a half) unless it is more beneficial for the engineer to put the overtime through CTAP in order to obtain a higher premium.

Voluntary move to a 4-day week in the summer period

Centrica have confirmed that it will support engineers moving to a four-day week in the 16-week summer period.

Bank Holidays

The Company have agreed that all hours worked on Bank Holidays will be paid at 150% apart from at Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day which will continue to be paid at 200%. Where those days fall on Saturdays and Sundays, the subsequent Bank Holidays for those days will continue to be paid at 150%.

Time Off In Lieu (TOIL) for working rest days

The Company have confirmed that hours worked on rest days or outside of normal hours will be able to be taken as TOIL via the CTAP system once it comes into effect by the end of August.

End of Day working in SMART

Agreement has been reached to set up a working party to look at the end of day issue for SMART engineers. This will look at the issue of members having to work long after their finishing time and will report back over the coming months.

Direct Labour

Centrica have recommitted to the direct labour model to ensure that they continue to directly employ staff moving forwards. Although caps on the numbers of contractors were discussed, we have agreed some flexibility with this as a result of the need to maintaining the caps to unsocial hours working and EA/call out. Despite this, levels of contractors will be discussed every three months at the Centrica Field services council to ensure that the company are complying with their commitments.

Engineer of the Future

As part of the proposed agreement, Centrica have recommitted to working with GMB over the Engineer of the Future programme. This will allow for joint lobbying to secure the investment necessary for conversion to hydrogen-based fuel which will has the potential to secure the industry for decades to come and to protect members skills.

Caps on Unsocial Hours Working

The Company have agreed to extend the caps on unsocial hours working (covering evenings and weekends) by one year. As a result, these caps will now be in force until the end of March 2024.

ACAS Talks Agreement

The company have agreed to implement all the elements of the ACAS agreement which were not implemented as a result of the previous deal being rejected by the workforce. This covers amongst other things:

  • The pay rate for SMART engineers will increase to £29,550 with effect from 1/4/22 and to £30,100 from 1/4/23
  • CPI increases (capped at 2.5%) for those paid below the market medium paid in April 2021, 2022, and 2023.
  • Agreement to honour holidays booked more than six weeks in advance.
  • Whilst this agreement does include the three year pay freeze covering 2021, 2022 and 2023 (as agreed by individual engineers when they signed their contracts), we have agreement that this can be revisited in exceptional circumstances. These circumstances are either a significant increase in inflation, difficulties in recruitment and retention, or a return to profit for the business.
  • No further use of fire and rehire within the business.

Upskilling

The company commits to upskill 600 SMART engineers to undertake service and repair work.

Pensions

The company have accepted that the decision to close the CERIS pension scheme to new starters in service and repair was a mistake and they have agreed to reverse that decision. As a result, any new starter who has joined the business unit since 1/6/21 will now be given the opportunity to join the scheme should they wish to do so.  We should stress that the pension remains in significant deficit and that there may be further discissions on this in the future.

CTAP

Agreement has been reached to amend the rules of CTAP to ensure that should any part of an engineer’s balance be removed because of misconduct, this will now only affect the part of the bonus related to the misconduct, not the entire amount as previously agreed. The company have also agreed to extend the transition period from four weeks to eight weeks and have given assurances that CTAP directly feeds into managers bonuses. We have also got agreement to ensure that the period of CTAP monitoring prior to any capability action being taken will be at least three months.

Members dismissed form the business over fire and rehire

The company have agreed that the 460 engineers dismissed from the business on 14th April are free to reapply for roles should they wish to do so.

Yours sincerely

Andy Prendergast
​Acting National Secretary

Previous bulletins

2021

Date: 23/6/2021

Dear Colleague,

Update on talks with the Company

Thank you for those of you who attended the members’ webinar last week. In terms of the situation with the company, we are continuing to work to resolve the numerous issues that are still outstanding following the company’s decision to dismiss 460 engineers in April. This was not only an unforgivable and frankly unnecessary act, but one that has had significant consequences for those still in the business with numerous reports of unacceptable levels of work and EA/On call being required as a result of the shortages that have arisen.

In order to keep you appraised as to where we are, the Union remains in dispute with the company on account of the failure to resolve the issues that affect you on the ground. This is something that we are seeking to make progress on, and have a number of days talks scheduled for early July to see if we can put together a deal which will provide improvements and protections for members as the business seeks to rebuild, to ensure that we can be confident about the long-term future of both the Company and the industry.

As a result of this, we are looking to get agreements on the issues that you have identified as part of the member surveys that have been conducted over the last few months. Amongst the changes you and your reps have identified, we are looking at getting extra protections to ensure that you can see a way forward, with more restrictions on out of hours work, improvements on the rates for overtime and bank holiday working, the implementation of the various agreements reached via ACAS that were not implemented, and changes to ensure that your voice will be listened too moving forwards. We are also demanding that the recent decision to close the CERIS pension scheme to new starters in the old service and repair part of the business is reversed to provide greater security for those already in the scheme over the long term.

It should be stressed that the talks between GMB and British Gas are being conducted without preconditions on either side. As such, whilst they provide for the possibility of a deal which moves us forward, this is by no means guaranteed at this point. However, you should be aware that nothing will be agreed without it first being accepted by a ballot of all members. Should we be unable to achieve something that meets your expectations, then we will ultimately be looking for a further mandate for more industrial action. This is not a step that we will take lightly, but unless we are able to agree a way forward that improves the current situation, we will not have any alternative.

We will keep you up to date of developments over the coming weeks. If you require more information in the meantime, or require any assistance or support, please contact your local union rep.

Yours sincerely

Andy Prendergast
Acting National Secretary

 
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