Fired British Gas engineer tells LBC he is 'relieved to be away from the harassment and bullying'

14 April 2021, 22:51 | Updated: 14 April 2021, 22:53

By Maddie Goodfellow

A British Gas engineer who left the company after 17 years service in opposition to the 'fire and rehire' scheme told LBC he was relieved to be "away from the harassment and the bullying of the last nine months".

Dan Staunton, who has been British Gas engineer for 17 years, said how he was feeling after being one of hundreds of its employees sacked today after having opposed the company's 'fire and rehire' scheme.

Asked how he felt on his last day, Mr Staunton said: "I would say there is a sense of relief to be away from the harassment and the bullying that we have been under for the past nine months.

"I'm also a little bit nervous for my future but also excited in a way as well."

Asked what he did not like about the new terms, he explained: "A lot of it was the way it was put across. They are just sweeping changes, there is not one thing that has not been altered in some way.

"A lot of people are going to be losing out on family time and possibly working anywhere from 7am to 11pm.

"And I think we all accept the need to change, but it is the way the company have gone about it."

Pushed further on the idea that the way British Gas acted constitutes "bullying", Mr Staunton said: "I think it was the way that they just said take it or leave it. This is what we are offering and if you don't like it, we are going to sack you."

Dan Staunton spoke to Eddie Mair on LBC
Dan Staunton spoke to Eddie Mair on LBC. Picture: LBC

British Gas engineers staged their 43rd strike on Wednesday in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

The GMB said the company is going ahead with sacking engineers who have refused to sign new contracts which the union claims will cut pay by 15 per cent.

The company denies the union's claims and said it is time to move on.

The GMB said further strikes and other forms of industrial action will be held unless the deadlock is broken.

The strikes have led to a huge backlog of services and emergency repairs, said the union.

British Gas said it is 'modernising' the way it works
British Gas said it is 'modernising' the way it works. Picture: PA

A spokesman for British Gas owner Centrica said: "We are modernising the way we work to give our customers the service they want and protect the future of our company and our 20,000 colleagues.

"The vast majority of our employees have agreed to the new terms, which are fair and very competitive. We're not changing base salaries or pensions.

"Sadly, the GMB continue to say we have cut pay by 15 per cent and this is simply not true.

"Our gas service engineers remain some of the best-paid in the sector, on £40,000 a year minimum.

"Some of our engineers who don't currently work a 40-hour week like their other colleagues will be working an additional three hours, and we're increasing their base pay for the next two years to reflect this.

"After this point we're still paying for those hours but through a productivity bonus, which means earnings are uncapped.

"It's now time for all parties to move forward and continue the turnaround of Centrica for our customers' and our colleagues' benefit."

Questioned on the statement, Mr Staunton said: "I wouldn't say that people have agreed to the changes, as you cannot really agree to something when the only other option is to lose your job.

"We are in the middle of a pandemic, we have worked all the way through the pandemic going into people's houses, and people need jobs.

"So to offer it up in this way and say 98 per ent of people have accepted, I don't think they have. They just need a job and need money coming in."

Asked what he thinks of 'fire and rehire', Mr Staunton said: "I think it is deplorable. It should be made illegal soon. If a company as big as British Gas and Centrica can do it, other companies will think they can soon."