City gas bash explodes into mass brawl

MORE than 20 staff from Scottish Gas' Edinburgh call centre were involved in a mass brawl during an X-Factor office party. The fighting erupted during the private function at the Corn Exchange, which was organised as a "morale boosting exercise".

Some staff started hurling glass bottles at each other amid apparent recriminations following mass sackings earlier this year.

Fist fights then broke out outside the venue as door stewards tried to maintain order.

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Scottish Gas said four employees were now the subject of an internal investigation. The talent night event for call centre staff was attended by around 120 people last Saturday.

One employee said tensions had been brewing between workers at the company's 20 million Granton headquarters on Waterfront Avenue since more than 50 of their colleagues were sacked.

They were fired after being accused of stealing 27,000 by exploiting a glitch in the company's reward scheme.

The call centre worker said: "It started as a fun evening with sketches and Britney Spears songs.

"Then at about 10.30pm people began throwing bottles at each other. There's a lot of animosity and bitterness between staff since the sackings.

"Some are blamed for not backing colleagues who lost their jobs and others are seen to have got off scott-free."

Another employee added: "There were a lot of red faces last Monday morning. The bosses wanted everything hushed up. They were scared of being embarrassed again."

Earlier this year, the firm held dozens of disciplinary hearings after it discovered staff had been repeatedly buying Winnie the Pooh bracelets using the scheme.

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The surge in orders came after sales staff discovered each order for a bracelet credited their accounts with 11.25 instead of debiting them. Only five of the staff who were interviewed are thought to have kept their jobs.

Workers described the office as resembling a "ghost town" following the firings.

A Scottish Gas spokesman said: "There is an internal inquiry being undertaken into the conduct of four staff members following the recent event. It would not be appropriate to comment further." He said that the company believed the fighting was not connected to the Winnie the Pooh scam.

A spokeswoman for the Corn Exchange said she did not wish to comment.