“If the Tories don't make it illegal, the next Labour government will.”
Workers up and down the country are urging MPs to back Barry Gardiner’s bill to ban fire and rehire today.
Fire and rehire is the term used to describe the process where employers dismiss their employees (or threaten to during negotiations) and re-offer them their role on new, often less favourable, terms. A recent Observer investigation into firms engaging in fire and rehire found that 70 per cent are turning a profit while over half received government support during the pandemic and some are increasing executive pay while trying to reduce the pay and conditions of their workers.
Among those accused of engaging in fire and rehire practices, include Weetabix, British Gas, Clarks Shoes and coffee giant Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE).
Gardiner’s bill, which will go before MPs today, says that fire-and-rehire should not be allowed unless employees are properly consulted first. The government has however ordered Tory MPs to oppose the legislation, despite its claim to want to ‘level up’.
Under the bill put forward by Gardiner, if an employee agrees to new employment terms then they could be taken on under the new terms, however should a dispute occur between staff and a company, an independent committee would then decide on whether the fire-and-rehire could go ahead.
The UK’s leading trade union, Unite, has thrown its weight behind a new law to place heavy restrictions on employers using Fire and Rehire tactics.
Ahead of the debate, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “’Fire and rehire’ is an abhorrence. It should have no place in a decent society. MPs now have a chance on Friday to outlaw this appalling bully boy practice which is a new attack on workers’ wages and conditions.
“Workers want action, not more empty words. The prime minister has talked a good game on this issue. Now it is time for him to step up, to act and show workers that he means what he says.”
Rachel Reeves tweeted: “Today I will be voting for @BarryGardiner’s Bill to Ban Fire and Rehire.
“If the Tories don’t make it illegal, the next Labour government will.”
Mary Kelly Foy MP tweeted: “I’ve pledged to back Barry’s Bill to #EndFireAndRehire
I’ll be in the chamber today & if I’m called to speak I’ll make the case for my constituents & 1000s of others – no worker should be fired then rehired on worse pay and terms & conditions. Let’s end this today!”
The debate in the Commons is expected to last about four hours but the bill can be “talked out”, meaning that a vote on it can be stopped if MPs opposed to it continue speaking right up to the allotted finishing time for discussion.
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward
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