RWE-owned energy company npower is planning a massive media assault on rival British Gas, with a nationwide advertising blitz to coincide with the proposed strike by British Gas engineers next week.
Npower will run a series of print ads in national newspapers, specifically targeting British Gas Three Star customers. These are the customers who would be affected by the strike should they need British Gas’s emergency service on December 12. The npower ads will offer Three Star customers a half-price deal on emergency work carried out on December 12.
A spokeswoman says the planned campaign will only go ahead if British Gas’s engineers do walk out in protest. About 6,000 engineers voted in favour of strike action in a dispute over Centrica’s decision to close its final-salary pension scheme to new employees from January 2006.
The GMB union says its members will walk out from 7am on December 12, 19 and 21, and on January 6 and 9. They will also suspend out-of-hours cover (8pm to 8am) from December 12 to 23, and from January 4 to 10 inclusive. Talks were held between British Gas and the GMB earlier this week, but no progress towards averting the strike action was made.
Npower’s blitz marks a new stage in a battle of words between energy providers. On Monday, npower called for all non-broadcast British Gas advertising to be vetted before it is rolled out.