British Gas board millionaire's club must rein in CEO over fire and rehire

22 Jan 2021
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Four board members - who earned £37 million between them in roles outside British Gas - must curb O’Shea’s excesses

GMB, the energy union, has called on the ‘millionaires club’ on the British Gas board to rein in CEO Chris O’Shea over his fire and rehire threat to thousands of workers. 

At least four members of British Gas parent company Centrica’s board are multimillionaires – who between them earned £37million from their jobs outside Centrica since 2015.

They are: Chairman Scott Wheway, Heidi Mottram, Kevin O’Byrne and Stephen Hester; as was the recently departed Chief Financial Officer Jonathon Ford. 

Stephen Hester alone earned a whopping £18 million as CEO of insurance giant RSA between 2015 and 2019. 

GMB is calling on them to curb the actions of the CEO Chris O’Shea who has provoked further strikes with his strategy of fire and rehire of the loyal, hardworking engineers. 

Thousands of British Gas workers across the UK are set to down tools today as part of a second set of strikes. They are also due to walk out on January 25, 29, 30, 31 and February 1 after staff slapped the company was with an overwhelming 89% ‘yes’ vote for strike action.

Centrica PLC recorded a group-wide operating profit of £901m (after exceptional deductions) in 2019, according to company accounts, with an adjusted operating profit of £229 million for its domestic heating business in the UK for the six months to 30 June 2020 – up 27% on the same period in the previous year.

Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary, said: 

“The board members of Centrica have been remiss; they should have asked Mr O’Shea how his plans would impact on British Gas customers when the engineers inevitably rejected hourly rates 15% below agreed pay rates and other imposed changes.   

“It was wishful thinking in the extreme to believe that members of any union would ever acquiesce to cuts of this magnitude in a profitable company.  


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“Around 100,000 customers are already in a backlog waiting for service and this number will grow as the next seven days of stoppages impact. 

“The Centrica board should reverse the view they have allowed to prevail that the company doesn’t care about customers, by reining in the hopelessly out of touch and naive Mr O'Shea.”  

“The men and women in the Centrica millionaire's club are rich beyond the dreams of any British Gas engineer and they will never succeed in grinding loyal, hard-working staff into submission just to earn a few more quid at the expense of their customers.  

“Mr O’Shea’s obsession with sacking the whole workforce and rehiring them on worse terms and conditions will ultimately cost the company – and the board – dearly.” 

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