UK's Centrica signs deal with unions over worker terms and conditions

FILE PHOTO: A British Gas sign is seen outside its offices in Staines in southern England, July 31, 2014. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS ENERGY ENVIRONMENT)

LONDON (Reuters) - British Gas owner Centrica CNA.L said on Thursday it has agreed with trade unions not to force through changes to terms and conditions via legal a process this year, in return for unions agreeing not to ballot for industrial action this month.

“Our negotiations have been progressing and we remain focused on getting a negotiated settlement through continued discussions,” a Centrica spokesperson said.

“As a demonstration of our good faith in these talks, we have committed that we will not use the legal process to change terms and conditions this year.”

“In return, to demonstrate their continued commitment to the negotiations, our trade unions have agreed not to ballot for industrial action in October - as we seek to find a negotiated agreement,” the spokesperson added.

In June, Centrica said it planned to cut around 5,000 jobs, almost 20% of its global workforce, as the utility deepens its restructuring efforts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Centrica currently employs around 27,000 people, with around 20,000 based in Britain.

It has said it has faced difficult conditions, including losing market share to smaller competitors, low oil and gas prices and a regulatory price cap which has squeezed profitability.

“This temporary retreat comes after sustained pressure, condemnation and public and political outcry over the proposal to sack the entire British Gas workforce,” said Justin Bowden, national secretary of trade union GMB.

Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Jan Harvey