In Lewisham Labour’s manifesto, we said that we would campaign on issues that affect our borough. Unite the Union have declared that Monday, 26 April, 2021, a national day of action, demanding the government end fire and rehire now. That’s why Cllr Alan Hall has written to the Minister to show support for the day of action.

The reason this is important to is that as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to create misery, unscrupulous employers – many in profit and some even claiming government financial support — are cynically exploiting the crisis to force workers to sign up to thousands of pounds of wage cuts and worse conditions or lose their jobs.

Unite figures estimate that one in 10 workers have already been threatened with fire and rehire, and many more will be as furlough comes to an end.

Businesses that have been supported by government and local Councils. Workers should be treated fairly too. Yet although some Government Ministers have described fire and rehire as “bully-boy” tactics, it is a fact that it is still legal.

Unite the Union say: “Millions of people are facing the sack if they don’t accept less pay and worse conditions. After months of pandemic hardship, this is no way to treat people. The government can put a stop to it and End Fire and Rehire once and for all. Businesses have been supported. Workers should be treated fairly too.”

Fire and rehire – real stories

  • One in ten workers already threatened with Fire and Rehire
  • Many more likely as furlough ends.
  • Denounced as “bully-boy tactics” by government ministers but still legal.
  • Already banned in Ireland, Spain and France.
  • Workers could lose thousands of pounds per year.

A report in the Daily Mirror says: “The campaign follows hundreds of British Gas engineers losing their jobs last week after they refused to sign up to longer hours under the firm’s controversial dismiss and re-engage scheme.

British Airways struck a deal with Unite earlier this year which ended the long-running dispute over the airline’s plans to ‘fire and rehire’ employees in its cargo division.”

Cllr Alan Hall has written to the Government Minister, full text below:

The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP – Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Daily Mirror reports on the campaign

Dear Minister,

I find it alarming that there is a growing number of employers who are dismissing and re-engaging staff on worse pay and terms and conditions, a practice commonly known as fire and rehire.

Government Ministers have said that such tactics represent an unacceptable abuse of power by rogue bosses, many of whom are exploiting the covid-19 crisis to increase profits at the expense of loyal staff who have risked their lives during the pandemic to keep businesses going and I welcome the Government’s stated commitment to tackle those shameful abuses.

However, I would like to request that the Government to publish the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service report into the practice received by Ministers on 17 February 2021.

Surely, this is the time for the Government to commit to including proposals in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech to outlaw this form of industrial blackmail. As this has been done in other European countries, please use your influence to bring forward this new legislation as a matter of urgency to protect UK workers from exploitation by unscrupulous employers. Why should the UK be treated to worse employment rights?

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Alan Hall

Bellingham, London Borough of Lewisham

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