‘Outlaw fire and rehire’ – demands TUC, warning the tactic is widespread during the pandemic

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British Gas GMB members on strike against Fire and Re-hire

THE TRADES Union Congress (TUC) warned yesterday that ‘fire and rehire’ tactics have become widespread during the pandemic, with new polling finding that nearly one-in-ten workers have been told to reapply for their jobs on worse terms amid the Covid crisis.

Commenting on the release of the fresh research, Trades Union Congress General Secretary Frances O’Grady described the tactics as ‘plain wrong’ and said ‘everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect at work.’

The research, commissioned by the TUC and conducted by BritainThinks, revealed that almost a quarter of workers – 24% – reported that their working terms, such as pay or hours, have been downgraded since the first lockdown in March.

One-in-three – 34% – workers between the ages of 18 and 24 said their terms at work had deteriorated since the first wave of the pandemic, and nearly a third – 30% – of workers earning below £15,000 reported the same.

The research from the TUC emerges amid ongoing strike action by GMB members who work for British Gas, after 89% of them voted for the industrial action in a strike ballot last month.

‘Fire and rehire tactics have no place in modern Britain and must be outlawed,’ O’Grady declared.

‘Boris Johnson promised to make the UK the best place in the world to work in. It’s high time he delivered on this promise.

‘That means fast-tracking his much-delayed employment bill. And it means abandoning any attempt to water down hard-won workers’ rights from the EU.’

The Labour leadership has expressed solidarity with the workers.

GMB has called on the public to ask why Centrica (parent company of British Gas) boss Chris O’Shea is planning a pay cut ‘in the depths of winter’ despite reported operating profits of £901m in 2019.

The union has highlighted that Centrica declared an adjusted operating profit of £229m for its domestic heating business in the UK in the six months to June 30th last year, which was up 27% on the previous year.

The government promised in 2019 that it would bring forward a new employment bill to improve people’s rights at work and the TUC has said that improving employment rights is a key test for the Conservative ‘levelling up’ agenda.

Dave Wiltshire, Secretary of the All Trades Unions Alliance (ATUA), commented: ‘Workers’ rights were not won through the EU but through strikes and struggle. In fact, the EU is attacking workers’ rights all across Europe.

‘The only way to abolish “fire and rehire” tactics is not through appeal to the Tories’ “better nature”, but through mass action to bring the Tories down.

‘The TUC have the power. They must call a general strike now! This is the only way forward!’