Hi I responded to BadMojo... and was asked to start a new conflab, so here goes.
Centrica seem to be targeting 2017 leavers from British Gas. Apparently reclaiming 'alleged' training bonds under the false title of 'Overpaid Wages'.
After hearing nothing for over 4 years, all of a sudden I received a letter dated 8th June 2021, which arrived June 28nd 2021 from CST Law. Looking at other replies, this seems to be happening a lot. I don't know if it was deliberate, but it's strange that it's happening to many BG ex-engineers - Modus Operandi?
A bit of background here...
It was only a couple of years after the economic crash, so many of us were grateful to have a job...
British Gas sold the fact that you would be working for BG and that was a status symbol... So not only were BG wages roughly about £4000 per annum lower compared to other utility companies, they included something in your contract, saying they could claim a training bond from you if you left. £9000 if you left year 1, £6000 in year 2 and £3000 in year 3.
A lot of new starters were nervous about this, but a job was a job and as soon as you left the training centre you were reassured on patch at Team Meetings about this so called Bond. I was told not to worry! When asked, these 'bonds' were dismissed by union reps, as unenforceable, and were "just a smoke screen to keep staff retention up, as all training was in-house and carried out by BG staff, so by law, there was nothing to pay back - So don't worry about it" - Direct quote!!!!
During training, engineers were also told/ coerced into joining the GMB. They would cover your back and be on your side if anything happened - As time went on though, they didn't seem to be, they appeared more to be a political arm of British Gas. I remember them making a presentation - 'telling' engineers which way to vote in the 2016 Europe referendum. That didn't go down well with a few of the seasoned engineers - who shortly after , weren't there.... Mnmmnnn.
In early 2017, rumours were rife about BG recruiting too many engineers, and we were told to watch your back and cover your behind.
So whether, leaving was your choice or not, it seemed in 2017 a lot of engineers left. The confident ones, the opinionated ones, the loud ones. If you didn't keep your head down, you could be next. Some engineers were offered Hobson's Choice... Either go or be forced out...
Constructive dismissal comes to mind, but who is going to take on Centrica?
Every engineer who left, who I know, didn't get their final wage. A lot, including myself, were left in severe dire straits. Every engineer who left, who I know, kicked off about this and were ignored by British Gas. I thought they had a duty of care? I actually called my union rep, I enquired about BG holding back my entire final wage and if it was legal. He told me I could fight for my wages, but it would probably cost me more than I was owed... and did I really think I would win. With no wage, no money and no safety net,
I asked advice about the bond... He told me they wouldn't chase me for it... in all his years he'd never heard of BG demanding it from anyone, besides, they'd taken my wages and that probably covered it anyway. So don't fight for your wages and it'll all go away. So I for one, didn't fight. I just went. Like a lot of other engineers, I just moved on. skip forward 4 happy years since I left British Gas and CST Law is now demanding money on Centrica's behalf!!! Where do we stand?
It seems that their demands are erroneous. I was never overpaid, so therefore I don't owe Centrica anything... There was no external training - So as the union rep said - "There's nothing to owe"
Do I make a counterclaim for my wages? A counterclaim for putting me into hardship? A Counterclaim for their failure of duty of care? I didn't ask for this fight, but if Centrica are coming for us, could we band together and go after them? Could we get this kicked? Could we countersue?
Any help would be gratefully received!!