Fire and rehire protest ahead of Queen's Speech

Workers take to Thames to call for Queen’s Speech end to fire and rehire

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Workers under threat from fire and rehire pay cuts of up to £12,000 will join MPs on a boat on the river Thames tomorrow (May 11) to demand pernicious practice is outlawed in the Queen’s Speech.

Onboard the boat will be workers from JDE (Jacobs Douwe Egberts). JDE is attempting to dismiss and re-engage 291 employees at its Banbury coffee factory on new contracts that could see some workers lose between £7,000 and £12,000 a year.

Staff from London-based letting services firm Goodlord, who are striking over £6,000 fire and rehire cuts, as well as other workers being impacted by the practice, will also be in attendance.

The boat trip comes after Unite members staged demonstrations today in Birmingham, Leeds, Crewe, Mansfield, Wolverhampton and Stoke-on-Trent calling for an end to the practice.

A study by the TUC found that since the beginning of the pandemic one in 10 workers have been threatened with fire and rehire, where they are made redundant and forced to accept new contracts on vastly inferior pay and conditions, or lose their jobs.

The number of workers affected by fire and rehire is likely to dramatically increase as the government furlough scheme begins to wind down and companies look to use the pandemic as cover to slash costs and boost profits.

Pressure is mounting on the government to take action as soon as possible. A Unite commissioned poll released last month found that 70 per cent of the public want it made illegal.

Nearly 20 unions and more than 140 MPs and peers have also joined together with Unite to call on the prime minister to use the Queen’s Speech to introduce legislation outlawing the controversial practice.

Unite assistant general secretary for legal and politics Howard Beckett said, “It’s quite clear that the public is firmly on the side of working people when it comes to the horrific practice of fire and rehire.

“There is no grey area here – they can see that this is an objectionable practice which should be banned,” he added.

“The government has to get on the same page as the voters on this, and fast.

“It can do so with the Queen’s Speech, bringing forward legislation to end fire and rehire to give the working people of this country the same protection as workers elsewhere, such as those in Ireland and Spain.”

Ryan Fletcher

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