politics

'British Gas is using coronavirus as cover to sack staff and cut costs'



Bully-boy bosses at British Gas yesterday sacked hundreds of ­engineers. Their crime? Refusing to sign contracts demanding more work for less pay and worse conditions.

This is only the latest example of employers exploiting the pandemic to cut costs and get rid of staff.

The private sector has gorged itself on taxpayers’ money through Chancellor Rishi Sunak ’s furlough scheme, while punishing their defenceless workers.

British Gas gave its engineers an ­ultimatum: “Sign the new contracts by midday Wednesday – or else.” Hundreds of workers who refused got the chop.

They have staged 43 days of strike action to demand a change of heart, to no avail. Human resources? More like man’s inhumanity to man.

I salute the courage of the men and women who said “No.” There comes a time when this is the only thing you can do – and still look at your face in the mirror every morning.

I know. I’ve been here – sacked by Rupert Murdoch in 1986 after 17 years’ loyal service on The Times for taking part in the Wapping dispute.

It’s never easy, starting again in middle age – or older for some of these workers. It’s even harder when the country is in the grip of the greatest crisis in living memory.

Some of these victims of bottom-line-profit mentality may never work again.

British Gas bosses, whose incompetence has lost the business three million customers in recent years, will no doubt trouser handsome bonuses for their dirty work.

There will be more of this stuff before the pandemic ends. Employers using “fire and rehire” tactics won’t let a good crisis go to waste.

And all without a peep from Tory ­politicians, whose claim to care for the British worker is a sickening sham.

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Dognapping regularly makes the headlines – but bunnynapping?

Darius, the world’s largest rabbit, who weighs in at 35lb and is 4ft 3in from whiskers to white rump, has gone missing from his megahutch in Stoulton, Worcs.

Owner Annette Edwards believes he was stolen, and is offering a £1,000 reward for his safe return. Darius, who earns up to £500 for media appearances, is too old to perform like, well, rabbits do, so he’s no use to a rogue breeder.

But his fast-growing offspring, Lewis and Daisy May, should inherit his place in the Guinness Book of Records.

What’s up, doc? Bugs Bunny, eat your heart out.

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This Covid passport business is getting nasty.

Widower David Walters, 78, was refused service at the Angel of Corbridge pub in Northumberland because he didn’t have a smartphone to submit his contact details to NHS Test and Trace.

This is blatant age discrimination. As he points out, our generation wasn’t brought up on computers, and we don’t want them to rule our lives.

The pub has apologised and offered him free drinks. My local’s landlord, Adam, says: “We don’t expect you to have an app, Paul” with a rueful grin. That should be the house rule, everywhere.

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Celebrity cook Ed Balls boasts in his new “memoir in recipes” of eating roast beef and Yorkshire pudding at three weeks old.

OK if you have the balls for it. But it turns out the grub was pureed.

Another bit of spin from the former politician.





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