The plans by Centrica to axe 6,000 jobs were branded as ‘unnecessary and driven by the pursuit of excessive profits’ by Unite, the country’s largest union today (Thursday 30 July), as profits doubled at its British Gas business.
Unite, which has about 700 members across Centrica and British Gas, called for no compulsory redundancies and said that job losses should be confined to natural wastage and voluntary means.
Unite regional coordinating officer for Centrica Paresh Patel said: “The very healthy profits at British Gas for the first half of 2015 should be directed at maintaining employment and further reducing the bills to the hard-pressed consumer, rather than going into the pockets of institutional shareholders.”
Centrica said the job losses would be through redundancies, but it also said it would create jobs in growth areas, so the net impact could be about 4,000 job losses. In the first half of 2015, profits at British Gas' residential arm rose to £528m up from £265m a year earlier.
Paresh Patel said: “Unite is insisting that any compulsory job losses should be kept to a minimum and that a reduction of the workforce should be made either through natural wastage or voluntary means.
“The job losses are unnecessary and driven by the pursuit of excessive profits.
“Unite members are outraged by the way the company has made this announcement through the media with many employees finding out about the decision on their way to work – this is no way to treat a dedicated workforce in the 21st Century.
“Unite has requested an urgent meeting with senior executives to understand in more detail the impact of their latest decision on the workforce.
“This is yet, another devastating blow for both those directly employed and people working within the supply chain for Centrica, which is leading to skilled workers leaving the industry.
“Ministers also need to wake up and start to work with both employers and trade unions to ensure that the energy market works for the consumer and the thousands of people who are employed within the sector.”
Unite members embrace electrical engineers, staff in power stations and call centres, as well as those in the supply chain who may be affected by Centrica’s strategic review of its business operations.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.