Centrica and GMB union in historic pay deal to keep the winter lights on

British Gas's 8,000 engineers will get a "landmark" 11.3 per cent wage increase in exchange for working a 45-hour week in the winter to tackle the increase of blackouts.

The GMB union and Centrica, British Gas's FTSE-100 parent company, have turned around hostile relations and are close to finalising a remarkable deal to be implemented on 1 November. A typical engineer earning £30,000 will get a 3 per cent increase backdated to April this year, followed by another 2 per cent in April 2011.

Engineers will also receive a £1,000 cash bonus this Christmas and next, so the deal is worth more than 11 per cent to the typical employee.

Although they will suffer long hours between November and February, the engineers will work only 28 hours a week between May and August, when there is less strain on the electricity network. The engineers will even be able to choose one summer month when they work a three-day week.

The innovative flexible pay deal is part of Centrica's drive to improve customer service, which suffered across the industry last winter due to energy supply shortages. Last week, British Gas confirmed trials of an emergency service that will see engineers hop on to scooters so that they can react quickly to telephone calls to fix boilers.

Gary Smith, the GMB's national secretary for energy, said that he did "not underestimate how difficult some of the changes will be" for the union's members, such as working weekends from November to February. It is understood that there is some disquiet among members as the cold-snap months are already stressful for engineers, though others recognise that summers will be far more relaxed.

"The company made it clear that they were going to change the customer promise to keep up with changing customer demand," said Mr Smith. "GMB is not a union that will be rolled over. However, when the chips are down, we are the union that you can do business with."

The deal marks a remarkable thaw in relations between British Gas and the union. In March, the workforce voted for strike action as a result of what the GMB's general secretary, Paul Kenny, described as British Gas's "culture of bullying, customer exploitation and profits at all costs".

However, Mr Smith said that the pay bargain is "only the start", adding: "Hand-in-hand with the change to the customer promise will go changes in management culture and the approach to working with GMB."

Chris Jansen, British Gas Services & Commercial managing director, said: " The outcome of four months' intense work and consultation is this landmark deal, which will allow us to make the necessary changes to British Gas.

"They [the GMB] have demonstrated they can make changes in a mature and sensible way. We must now show we can use all the experience it has to help run a more effective business."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory