Hundreds of employees of the country’s largest energy supplier lost their job last week as the company tried to change contracts and pushed through controversial proposals.

7,500 service engineers have been affected by British Gas’ new contracts, which asked workers to work and travel an additional five to eight hours a week unpaid.

A nine-month deadlock between trade unions and British Gas came to a head last week, with the workers ultimately losing their battle.

Several hundred resigned in protest.

In Liverpool, around a hundred engineers left the company, some with over 40 years’ experience.

Debbie Tinsley, an engineer who lost her job last week said: “It is heart-breaking, I’ve worked their 31 years and last week I was just handed my p45 while managers who’ve been there three years joked sarcastically that it was a ‘sad’ day.”

Lorna McKinley, another former British Gas engineer said: “We heard stories that when engineers dropped their vans off, they actually took the shoes off their feet… because they were owned by the company… they had to drive home in their socks.

“All our tools had to be returned, overalls as well. The company threatened that if anything was missing from the vans, we would be billed for it, but they hadn’t checked our vans in about eight years”

Debbie and Lorna are part of several hundred campaigners in Liverpool who, backed by the workers union GMB, campaigned for months to stop the controversial fire and rehire tactics.

The pair have now launched their own company, D & L Heating

Mick Whitley, MP for Birkenhead said:  “It’s simply shameful that hundreds of loyal and hard-working British Gas engineers have had their contracts terminated because they refused to give in to Centrica’s bullying tactics and accept cuts to their pay and working conditions.

“After having worked tirelessly to keep our homes warm and connected during this public health crisis, this is simply not what they deserved. There can be no more delays or mindless excuses.

“It’s time that the Government acted decisively to stamp out fire and rehire tactics once and for all.”

British Gas is yet to respond to these claims from former engineers.

A representative of Centrica, the parent company of British Gas did say: “We are changing the way we work to give our customers the service they want and secure the future of of our company and 20,000 UK jobs.”

“98% of the entire company has accepted new contracts.”

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Image Courtesy of Debbie Tinsley.


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