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Loyal service or a job ?

(15 Posts)
vickymeldrew Sat 23-Jan-21 12:15:37

I was listening to the radio recently when an employee of British Gas was explaining why he is currently on strike over new contracts that have been issued, with less favourable terms than his present contract. He was at pains to stress over and over how his employment was “public service” . Many employees had “over 30 years loyal service” etc. etc. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the contracts, when is an occupation “a service” and when is it “a job”. Personally, I have always considered myself lucky to be in work and not signing on the dole!

BigBertha1 Sat 23-Jan-21 12:37:34

Can't it be both?

Smileless2012 Sat 23-Jan-21 12:39:20

There are lots of jobs that provide a service. For me, if you're getting paid for doing something, regardless of what that is, it's a job.

Chewbacca Sat 23-Jan-21 12:50:07

Well every job is providing a service of some sort aren't they. But when employees say that they've "given 30 years loyal service", I always assume that they mean they've worked for the same employer for an unbroken period of time. As for the British Gas engineers; I agree with them 100%; they've been treated appallingly.

AmberSpyglass Sat 23-Jan-21 13:21:38

Regardless of public service or a job, no one should have to be forced to work on a worse contract than the one they were hired on. It’s disgusting and it should be illegal.

Urmstongran Sat 23-Jan-21 13:29:10

Sadly, regards contracts, I think post-Covid there’s going to be a lot of this ‘renegotiation’ about.

Workers need union representation otherwise it’s ‘take it or leave it’ by employers. And in difficult times, someone will always ‘take it’ on for less because in their own circumstances, it’s ‘more’.

M0nica Sat 23-Jan-21 15:39:10

Any job is a 'service' when people are talking about working for a company for a long time whether it is gas, retail or washing up dishes in a restaurant. It is just the word used.

Remember all those clocks and crystal give as Long Service Awards to people who had been with the same company for 25 or more years.

AGAA4 Sat 23-Jan-21 16:38:22

It's no wonder so many British Gas engineers have left. Some have joined another company made up of ex British Gas engineers.
I have found the engineers to be excellent but the company itself is not customer friendly.

growstuff Sat 23-Jan-21 18:04:51


Sadly, regards contracts, I think post-Covid there’s going to be a lot of this ‘renegotiation’ about.

Workers need union representation otherwise it’s ‘take it or leave it’ by employers. And in difficult times, someone will always ‘take it’ on for less because in their own circumstances, it’s ‘more’.

Only if there are hordes of unemployed trained gas engineers.

growstuff Sat 23-Jan-21 18:10:48

If it's only a job, why is British Gas attempting moral blackmail by talking about "the coldest weekend of the year" and "a time that our country needs everyone to pull together."

M0nica Sat 23-Jan-21 21:14:32

As an ex-British Gas employee. I worked for them for 12 years until being made redundant into early retirement, and someone who has watched the evolution of the company from nationalised industry to its current fragmented state, I would really argue with these engineers as to whether they are working in a public service.

In the mid-1990s, the company was split in three, the third that became Centrica and kept the British Gas trade name in the UK, supplied gas to the British market but their remit did not include the infrasructure of pipelines that took the gas from the terminal to the customers house, they are a gas and electricity supply company only and also install and service domestic heating equipment.

There are plenty of independent plumbing and heating contractors all over the country who can and are doing what these British Gas engineers are doing. If British Gas charge too much people just turn to the range of other companies available that offer the same service.

When we had problems with our gas supply a couple of years ago because of problems with the main supplying us and most of our neighbours, it was not British Gas engineers who turned up to fix it, it was SGN , the company who own and operate the gas distribution grid. The main transmission pipelines are operated by National Grid.

The same with gas leaks, British Gas will turn up if it is a domestic appliance - but so will your local domestic gas servicing contractor. but anything else and it is the distribution company that turns out.

I think their claim that their work is a public service is not that strong.

growstuff Sat 23-Jan-21 23:41:07

I also have experience of that MOnica. Some years ago, the pipeline from the road to all the houses in my road needed replacing. Engineers (from "Transco"?) turned up and spent about a week replacing the pipework. Obviously, my gas needed turning off from within the house, so I planned to be without gas for a day. The work was completed on time, but the engineers couldn't turn my personal supply back on. The reason was that British Gas (or whatever they were called) had to do that because they were qualified. They didn't turn up and I was left overnight and until about midday the next day without gas.

I haven't been following this dispute too closely. Centrica makes healthy profits, so if this is the arm of British Gas being affected, they should be ashamed. I'm not convinced that denationalising and selling off public utilities has been to the advantage of consumers or workers.

Who is claiming that British Gas is a public service? What are the implications? From what I can see, British Gas is trying its hand at moral blackmail by telling ist workers that a strike is against the public good? Maybe the OP could clarify.

Doodledog Sun 24-Jan-21 01:12:31

I think it's the classic tactic of bringing in unpalatable changes to contracts at a time when it will look as though strikers are behaving in an unpatriotic or exploitative manner. 'How dare they strike during a pandemic?'

Also, it will be all but impossible for the unions to have meetings in order to discuss matters, so again, it is a tactical move to bring things to a head just now.

I believe that essential commodities, such as fuel, water, post and transport should be publicly owned and viewed as public services, which of course they once were. This doesn't mean that they should be inefficient, but they should not be concerned with shareholders and profits in the way that they are now. It is in nobody's interest to have profit-led companies providing things that we can't do without. All the money we pay for these services should go into their provision, not to shareholders.

M0nica Sun 24-Jan-21 08:36:36

I always opposed privitisation of the core utilities. But there is nothing new about asking people to sign up to new contracts if they want to keep their jobs.

It started in the 1980s, when companies first began shedding jobs and having major reorganisations. Usually the organisation changed so much and were rebuilt that if you wanted to stay with the company you needed to reapply for a job - and the contract you were offered - would be less advantageous. At the time the companies were so changed this was understandable, and redundancy terms were often very generous. I left BG in the mid 1990s, when it split into three, lost its monopoly of gas supply and had to reduce staff numbers by 35,000. The redundancy scheme, was almost unrefuseable, especially if you were over 50.

However now companies are using it for trivial schemes, like this one. On the other hand, if you are unable to compete in the market because your prices are too high, the alternative is shutting that part of the business down and making the employees redundant.

Doodledog you are unduly pessimistic about unions and meetings. As an ex-nationalised industry, the unions were always strong and well-organised and the whole country from top to toe has been running on Zoom and other meeting software for nearly a year so I am sure the unions are being as well organised and as efficient as any other business keeping running in today's exceptional times. I am still a union member and they seem to be running as normal.

Iam64 Sun 24-Jan-21 08:56:12

All essential utilities should be publicly owned. British Gas is treating employees very badly. This move to destroy good terms and conditions is everywhere. Look at teachers, firemen and wome, police officers, social workers etc, terms and condition, pensions all being eroded.