British Gas quiz staff

Thousands of British Gas employees are being re-interviewed for their jobs in the customer service department at a time when the company faces fierce criticism over falling standards.

The process is designed to identify those staff least competent in dealing with the public, and is likely sharply reduce from 3,500 the number of employees handling public queries and concerns.

The move comes as British Gas attempts to recover from a barrage of criticism over falling standards of service which culminated in a warning last month that it might lose its Government Charter Mark.

The interviews will mark one of the final stages of restructuring of British Gas Public Gas Supply. By the end of June, around 11,000 staff at PGS will have undergone detailed assessments of their suitability. The casualty rate at some levels of management is said to have been very high.

Mike Alexander, managing director of public gas supply said that his aim to is have a much smaller number of employees than the 11,000 which were in place in March 1994. Any cuts are part of the British Gas aim of reducing staff across all UK gas operations by 25,000.

Mr Alexander said that unions are supportive of the interviewing process as it will result in long term employment for the right people. He added:"Training will be continuous from now on."

The new PGS is undergoing a complete culture change with power devolved through the ranks. One aim is to enable people dealing with customers at "the front line" to advise them on tariffs and services and to take decisions where customers have a grievance concerning their bills. The management structure of the gas supply company has also been changed with six layers replacing the previous 13.

British Gas has been at the centre of controversy since last November when it emerged that the company had agreed a 75 per cent increase in basic pay for the chief executive, Cedric Brown. About the same time, there was an outcry over plans to stop payment of gas bills at showrooms. There was also a furore over a decision to introduce discounts of five per cent for all those who pay by monthly direct debit.

The changes resulted in a sudden increase in the number of enquiries to British Gas and the company's system for handling telephone queries and correspondence was unable to cope.

Mr Alexander said that measures are now in place to resolve the problem. He has repeatedly rejected the suggestion that PGS might lose its Charter Mark.

British Gas is faced with competition in domestic gas supply from April next year when a pilot scheme begins in the south west. The pilot will be extended in 1997 with full competition expected to be in place by the end of 1998.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is a mul...

Guru Careers: C# Project Team Lead

£55 - 65k (DOE): Guru Careers: A unique opportunity for a permanent C# Develop...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor