British Gas engineers have launched a fresh wave of strikes in a dispute over pay and conditions, with no sign of the deadlock being broken.
Thousands of members of the GMB union walked out on Wednesday, and will strike again on January 22, 25, 29, 30,31 and February, following five days of industrial action earlier this month.
The union said the action had led to a backlog of 100,000 appointments, a figure British Gas disputed.
The company said it had “strong contingency plans” in place and would prioritise vulnerable households and emergencies.
The GMB has accused British Gas of a “fire and rehire” policy which would lead to a pay cut and longer working week for its members.
National officer Justin Bowden said: “A profitable British Gas is provoking disruption leading to a backlog of more than 100,000 customers waiting for service so far.
“The backlog will grow due to the impact of the next seven days of stoppages.
“The company doesn’t seem to care about services to customers.
“Loyal, hardworking British Gas engineers are being fired and rehired and have been left with no choice but to take action again.
“British Gas should start focusing on the workforce and customers who make it profitable – without either the company is nothing.”
A company spokesman said: “We’re operating in an incredibly competitive market and British Gas has lost too many jobs and too many customers over recent years.
“We can’t continue like this.
“We need to take action to modernise and refocus the company in line with what our customers need now, not what they needed 20 years ago.
“Our pay for engineers will remain the highest in the sector, but we need to get productivity back to where it used to be and for some, we need to increase the working week from 37 to 40 hours.
“We’re not changing base pay or pensions and we will reward increased productivity through additional bonuses. 83% of our employees have already accepted the new terms – including the majority of our engineers.
“Our changes are ultimately to protect and create jobs for the future.”
“We have strong contingency plans in place to ensure we will still be there for customers who really need us, and we’ll prioritise vulnerable households and emergencies.”