new bill to outlaw fire and rehire

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Fire and rehire is when bad bosses threaten workers with the sack and are told they will only be re-employed to do the same basic job if they accept less money and poorer conditions.

Even the government agrees that fire and rehire tactics are wrong but have refused to outlaw them. Jacob Rees-Mogg has described fire and rehire as “wrong” and a “bad practice” while Business Minister, Paul Scully, has branded it as “bully-boy tactics”.

Barry Gardiner is the MP for Brent North. He has introduced a Private Members Bill to outlaw it. Barry launched his campaign at Jacob Douwe Egberts in Banbury. As he pointed out in an article for the influential Insititute of Employment Rights:

Coffee consumption was up 40% during the lockdown and Jacobs Douwe Egbert made record profits, but that didn’t stop them threatening their workforce in Banbury with the sack unless they accepted a cut in wages of up to £12,000. No family should have to put up with that. I met hundreds of workers who told me what that loss of earnings meant for them: How do you pay your rent or your mortgage with a cut like that? How do you support your family? Every pound cut is a pound less to pay your rent, to pay your mortgage and the fear of eviction or repossession is very real.

The Bill proposed by Barry has already attracted support from over 100 MPs from every single party in the House of Commons – including a growing number of Conservative MPs. Patrick Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity union, declared: “Barry Gardiners Bill should have the support of every honest working man and woman in our country. He is 100 percent right that legislation, not just fine words, is needed to stop this disgraceful tactic.”

STRIKE TO OPPOSE FIRE AND RE-HIRE

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Workers who make cosmetics and pharmaceuticals sold by Boots are to strike against “fire and rehire” policies.

Manufacturer BCM Fareva, based in Nottingham, supplies products to the health and beauty retailer and other outlets.

Retail and distribution union Usdaw says BCM has threatened to “fire and rehire” its staff to cut pay and worsen conditions — a tactic being used by dozens of employers across Britain and affecting two million workers, according to the TUC.

The BCM workers will strike for 24 hours on Thursday, July 22.

Usdaw national officer Daniel Adams said: “The proposal to drastically cut sick pay and other terms and conditions for these key workers, who have given their all through the coronavirus pandemic, is totally unacceptable.

The company is now in the process of threatening to ‘fire and rehire’ staff unless they accept these dramatic cuts.

Our members have been left with little choice other than industrial action.

NEWS AND VIEWS FROM OUR GENERAL SECRETARY

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BUT WHO WILL BE SUBSIDISED? 

In what was hailed as “the most important bit of post-Brexit legislation yet” in a government statement to the BBC The Subsidy Control Bill has been published.

The government say it will “create a new system for subsidies that can enable key domestic priorities, such as levelling up economic growth across the UK and driving our green industrial revolution“.

It will replace the state aid rules that applied when Britain was part of the European Union (EU). Those rules require EU member states to seek approval for government assistance to firms so that there is a “level playing field” for capitalist competition.

In practice, this means a corrupt EU-wide system of favours and deals. National governments are allowed to subsidise some corporations in their own country so long as they support similar moves in other countries.

British governments often used the EU regulations as an excuse for not nationalising industries to protect jobs and workers’ wages. They said such moves would be blocked as “unfair competition”.

In 2019, for example, the Tories argued they could not nationalise British Steel because of the rules.

On the face of it good news for British workers. So why am I not celebrating? I just have no confidence that instead of moving to a more self-sufficient and participatory economy it will just mean more cash for the bosses that the Tories favour.

I fear that their multibillion awards to their cronies during the pandemic will now just happen on a much larger and sleazier level.

FIRE AND REHIRE – ACAS PAPER PUBLISHED

Acas has published a paper on the use of fire and re-hire practices, following a fact-finding exercise commissioned by BEIS but the government is not expected to legislate.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for BEIS, Paul Scully  has stated in parliament that ‘It is unacceptable and, frankly, immoral to use the threat of fire and rehire as a negotiating tactic to force through changes to people’s employment contracts, or for employers to turn to dismissal and rehiring too hastily, rather than continue to engage in meaningful negotiations.

As to the way forward, Mr. Scully states:

However, having carefully considered the report, the Government want to send a clear message to employers: even if your business is facing acute challenges, all other options to save jobs and a business should be exhausted before considering the dismissal and re-engagement of staff. I believe that we can achieve this working in partnership with businesses and workers, without heavy-handed legislation.

In contrast, I believe that only legislation will stop the practice of fire and re-hire.

Patrick Harrington