Unions must fight 'abhorrent fire and rehire tactics'

Unite delegate Arsalan Ghani speaks out against fire and rehire at TUC conference

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Unite delegate Arsalan Ghani spoke out against fire and rehire tactics in support of a motion at TUC conference on Tuesday (October 18).

He slammed the “abhorrent tactics of fire and rehire” which, he said, has “spread like a black mould into every industry across the country”.

Arsalan hailed the “working class who are running workplaces and producing the means of existence of society”.

“It was once said, ‘not a wheel will turn, not a will phone ring, not a light bulb will shine without the working class’,” he told conference. “Once this enormous power is mobilised no force on earth can stop it.”

Arsalan slammed fire and rehire tactics as “threatening, bullying, intimidating, attacking”.

“It’s work by capitalists,” he added. “We remain shackled by the worst anti-trade union laws in Europe.”

Arsalan noted how Unite members from a vast range of industries have fought back against fire and rehire and won – from workers in the North Sea to the rail yards, from the car industry to British Airways and even in education and charities.

“Of course, we all watched with horror as P&O used the tactic to mercilessly fire 800 staff, replacing them with agency workers with lesser contracts,” he went on to say.

Arsalan hailed the resurgence in strike action under Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, who he said, “made it clear that Unite will confront head-on and by whatever means necessary further attacks on the right to strike”.

“As the rule book of the union has made clear, if the Tories try to force workers’ activities outside of the law, do not expect us to be bound by them,” he added, urging both opposition to fire and rehire and demands for a “new framework of legal rights”.

This framework, he said, should include “full working rights from day one, and a ban on zero-hour contracts and blacklisting”.

Arsalan said such rights “will be defended by the collective strength and joint coordinated action of our movement to bring down the Tories and all this rotten lot”.

Urging conference to channel the “spirit of Chartism and suffragettes”, he said the fight against fire and rehire must be a “coordinated effort so that every strike for job, pay and conditions must bring closer the end of this government and attack on our class”.

The motion was carried.

By Hajera Blagg

Pic by Mark Thomas

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