Labour councillors have called for an end to the immoral practice of ‘fire and rehire’, in a motion brought by Cllr Martin Bond and seconded by Cllr Richard McCauley.
The motion was supported unanimously by all councillors. You can read the motion and view the webcast here: http://moderngov.sthelens.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=116&MId=11116&Ver=4 and read Cllr Bond’s comments below.
Speaking at the full council meeting, Cllr Martin Bond said: “The practice of fire and rehire (also called dismissal and re-engagement) is when an employer dismisses an employee or a group of employees and offers to rehire them on new terms.
The new terms will almost always be more favourable toward the employer.
Sometimes employers push the button on this vile tactic without any attempt to negotiate and as we have seen recently they simply don’t attempt to rehire. They just fire.
Quite appallingly this practice is not unlawful.
The Government blocked an attempt by Barry Gardiner MP to outlaw this practice back in October last year.
In debate of his Private Members Bill, supporters were able to show, by comparison with Germany, that greater protections for workers improve economic productivity, while fire and rehire is associated with a fall in worker morale and poorer economic outcomes.
The bill recognised that at times business conditions change and there may be a real requirement to alter terms and conditions of employment.
To allow for this the bill required businesses to meaningfully consult with their workers in order to strike a mutually agreeable deal, where new terms and conditions could enable a business to stay afloat.
In case anyone is in any doubt the human impact of fire & rehire, this is what the new General Secretary of Unite Sharon Graham has to say about the practice
Workers wake up one morning and have 45 days to accept an ultimatum from the employer which involves slashed wages and terms and conditions. If the new terms are not accepted, it means the sack. Very often there is no warning.
“This could mean workers losing their homes, and their families and children being forced to move away from family, friends and neighbourhood networks, to seek work elsewhere.
Waking up one morning and having the financial structure of your life cut from under you is inhumane madam mayor.
The Pandemic has been used as excuse to drive back hard earned terms and conditions for ordinary people
We already have the weakest employment laws in democratic Europe.
From the Truck Acts of the 1800s to now, every significant advance in workers protections has been opposed by the Tories.
Since 1979 every Tory PM has weakened protection from unfair dismissal by raising the qualifying period from 1 year service to 2 or maintaining it at that level.
The minimum wage was predicted by the Tories to devastate the UK job market, they unlawfully introduced fees in Employment Tribunals, excluding 100,000s of workers from accessing justice and now they are talking and despite assurances in the Brexit campaign are eyeing many of the protections afforded to workers before we left the EU.
If a Government allows workers to be treated as units of production and not human beings with lives, families, mortgages, rent and council tax to pay then you end up with employers who feel they can act with impunity. 800 sacked workers become just a statistic. Legal duty to consult with workers is bypassed by factoring the financial penalty for doing so into the overall cost of the restructure.
You end up in the grotesque chaos of a former blue chip British Marine Operator hiring security guards to scuttle round their own vessels handing out redundancy notices to their own employees.
Only now with this most egregious conduct by P&O has the government been dragged into action. They are now consulting on a statutory code of practice in this area.
That is to be welcomed, but as always I’ll hold my judgement until we see the code.
What can we do Madam Mayor?
We can ensure that the LA’s partner organisations and suppliers are clear on our attitude towards fire and rehire.
With the Construction Charter already in place we can ensure that if they want to continue to work with us, our suppliers don’t engage in such practices and that the City Regions fair employment charter incorporates a commitment not to work with organisations using Fire and Rehire.
Thank you Madam Mayor, I move the motion.”