The trade union has today kicked off a national campaign to end businesses using ‘fire and rehire’ tactics.
Unite today launched a huge campaign to end what it calls the ‘despicable’ practice of fire and rehire being used by ‘bad bosses’, with a coordinated day of strike action across the country. As well as seeing workers and supporters go on strike, the campaign will also see the union arrange solidarity actions and leaflet workplaces.
The union warned that workers now face a ‘pandemic of greed’ unless something is done, with assistant general secretary Howard Beckett calling on the government to ban the controversial practice of fire and rehire. Mr Beckett said: “Millions of people all over the country are facing the sack if they don’t accept less pay and worse conditions. That’s thousands of pounds stolen out of the pockets of families and millions sucked out of communities.”
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously described the use of fire and rehire tactics as ‘unacceptable’ and the government said in 2019 that it would implement a new employment bill to improve workers’ rights.
However, Labour MP John McDonnell argued during a recent online rally that there is nothing in the government’s proposed employment bill that “discourages employers from using brutal fire and rehire tactics to force through permanent wage cuts.”
The government’s lack of urgency has now led Unite to draft their own easily implemented legislation that would ban fire and rehire tactics.
Howard Beckett said: “This wave of despicable fire-and-rehire tactics from bad bosses will only grow as furlough comes to an end. After months of pandemic hardship, this is no way to treat people.
“Businesses have been supported in the pandemic. Workers should be treated fairly too.”
Mr Beckett, who is one of the candidates standing to be Unite’s next leader, said that “bad bosses” cannot be allowed to take advantage of the current crisis.
“The government knows this is wrong and can end fire and rehire with one stroke of a legislative pen,” he said.
Mr Beckett appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning to talk about Unite’s campaign to end fire and rehire:
“There’s a binary choice, much as there was in 2008. Who will pay for this crisis? Will it be workers paying for it, with their terms & conditions, or will wealth pay it?” pic.twitter.com/Pfn5DS5oSI
— Beckett for Unite (@Beckett4Unite) April 26, 2021
Recent research by the TUC found that one in ten workers had been threatened with fire and rehire during the COVID-19 pandemic and Beckett warned that the use of these tactics will only increase as we approach the end of furlough in September.
“Businesses have been supported in the pandemic,” the assistant general secretary for politics and legal added. “Workers should be treated fairly too. It has been workers who have seen our nations through this Covid crisis.”
Beckett explained that Unite has “members in every sector and in every nation taking industrial action” and is providing daily strike pay of £70. “Fire and rehire will be stopped,” he declared this morning.
“Workers cannot be made to pay for a crisis they have not caused. The government knows this is wrong and can end fire and rehire with one stroke of a legislative pen,” he argued. “But if the government won’t do the right thing, then Unite will.”
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Photo credit: UniteWestMidlandsPolitics – @unite_west