Strikes averted as British Gas reaches pension deal

A series of strikes planned by British Gas engineers have been called off, after parent company Centrica agreed a deal with the GMB union.

Under the agreement, which followed three days of intense negotiations between Centrica and the union, Centrica will allow 1,700 apprentices and junior staff to join its final salary scheme.

But from next March, new starters will have to go on to an alternative pension based on career-average wages.

Around 6,000 staff staged a one-day strike earlier this month in protest at Centrica’s plans to close down its current pension scheme to new employees in January.

Engineers who repair domestic boilers had planned to hold industrial action again on 21 December, and again on 6 and 9 January over the pension dispute.

But the action has now been suspended while unions are consulted about Centrica’s offer.

Chris Weston, head of British Gas Home Services, said: “I am pleased that we have managed to reach a sustainable agreement that I believe will help the viability of the final salary scheme for our existing staff, while also offering an excellent pensions package for new engineers.”

Brian Strutton, national secretary of the GMB union, said that while he was “disappointed” at Centrica’s decision to close the pension scheme to new starters, he was pleased that almost 2,000 staff had won the chance to join the scheme.

“In addition, we have secured £35m extra funding and written guarantees on the future security of pensions in British Gas Services,” he said.


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