Centrica’s British Gas could lose 300-400 engineers in dispute

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LONDON, April 14 (Reuters) - Centrica’s (CNA.L) British Gas could lose around 300-400 engineers on Wednesday it said, as part of an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions that has also seen 43 days of strike action this year.

Centrica has accelerated restructuring plans after the COVID-19 pandemic reduced demand and customer numbers have fallen.

Last year, it cancelled its dividend, announced plans to cut about 5,000 jobs, almost 20% of its global workforce, and said it would change the terms of worker contracts.

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Thousands of the company’s workers in the GMB union have engaged in a dispute over what they call plans to fire and rehire and cuts to workers’ pay and terms.

A strike on Wednesday, the 43rd day of action this year, coincides with the end of the period for signing up to new terms.

Centrica said almost 98% of the company had agreed to the new terms. It hoped the rest would also sign them, but it expected 300-400 of its 7,500 engineers would choose to leave at the end of the process on Wednesday.

"While change is difficult, reversing our decline which has seen us lose over three million customers, cut over 15,000 jobs and seen profits halved over the last 10 years is necessary," Centrica said in an emailed statement.

The GMB union said the action showed a lack of regard by the company for its staff and customers and said more strike action would be planned.

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Reporting By Susanna Twidale; editing by Barbara Lewis

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