ON WEDNESDAY, up to 500 engineers were sacked by British Gas for refusing to sign a scab, wage-cutting new contract under the company’s fire and rehire onslaught on its engineers.
These were the workers who took the stand of refusing to sign up to new contracts that would cut wages by 15%.
A statement issued by the GMB union following the mass sacking of its members said: ‘These GMB members at British Gas have already taken 42 days of strike action against the imposition of the 15% cuts in pay rates and other changes via “fire and rehire” notices.’
It went on that following the sackings ‘a national official “lockout” dispute between British Gas and GMB will become effective from 14 April and will include further strike action and action short of a strike.’
These militant sounding words are just a cover-up for the fact that the leadership of the GMB has sold its sacked members down the river and dumped them completely!
The 500 gas workers have not been locked out of their jobs. They have been sacked and the real fight is for their re-instatement – this is the one thing that the GMB leaders are point blank refusing to fight for.
When they talk of a national ‘lockout dispute’ what they in fact mean is that the struggle against fire and rehire is over as far as the GMB bureaucracy is concerned – it ended on 14th April. Now all they are promising is a dispute over the remaining workers’ pay and conditions.
In other words, the struggle is to be confined to trying to get a few concessions to the pay and conditions for those members who signed the new contracts, while the fight against fire and rehire is dumped along with the sacked workers.
This monumental act of treachery by the GMB leaders is the culmination of their refusal to fight fire and rehire.
Despite massive votes for strike action from the members, they have made sure that this anger by the workers has been channelled into a series of limited strikes that the company have been able to shrug off.
British Gas have been allowed all the time needed to threaten and bully workers into signing the new contracts while the GMB leadership has demonstrated nothing but spinelessness, creating the conditions where its members had little confidence in these leaders leading any real fight.
All the time the GMB stressed that fire and rehire is completely legal under Tory employment laws and that really there was nothing that workers could really do except protest and hope to change the minds of the bosses.
GMB leaders have betrayed those sacked workers and are preparing to betray every one of their members throughout every industry as fire and rehire regimes spread like wildfire through companies and industries.
The sacking of these 500 gas engineers is a clear warning to the entire working class that the capitalist class intend to enforce a brutal dictatorship over workers to drive up exploitation as the only way to keep up profits for the bosses and shareholders using fire and rehire as its main weapon.
The sacked workers are heroes for their refusal to bow down, while the trade union leaders who betrayed them are prepared to betray every worker and young person – acting as nothing more than boot licking accomplices of the bosses.
The working class must take up the fight for these sacked workers and fire and rehire by demanding that these trade union leaders are kicked out of the movement and replaced by a new leadership that is prepared to take on the bosses and this rotten bankrupt capitalist system by calling a general strike to bring down the Tories and go forward to a workers’ government.
A workers government will expropriate the capitalists and put an end to the exploitation of the working class by replacing capitalism with a workers’ state and socialism.
Only the WRP is building the leadership necessary for the victory of the socialist revolution – join today.