Labour councillors condemn 'morally wrong' fire-and-rehire

Labour councillors have condemned the "morally wrong" practice of fire and rehire.

Thursday, 28th October 2021, 4:53 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th October 2021, 4:54 pm

Employers are currently able to dismiss staff and then instantly rehire them on worse pay and conditions.

The government sank a Parliamentary vote on outlawing the practice last week, despite the Prime Minister describing fire-and-rehire as "completely unacceptable".

Wakefield's Conservative opposition did not support a motion on the issue from their Labour counterparts, as they claimed it is frequently used as a "last resort" by struggling small firms facing extinction.

Trade unions are among those to have criticised the practice.

But presenting the motion, the council's deputy leader Jack Hemingway said the practice was "being used to bludgeon workers into submission".

He told a full council meeting on Wednesday: "Earlier this year British Gas imposed a pay cut of 15 per cent on thousands of its engineers.

"Around 500 workers lost their jobs as they refused to accept the cut.

"It shouldn't be this way. It's morally wrong and it should be illegal.

"Every pound taken out of workers' pay packet is a pound taken out of a small business.

"It's undermining our communities."

Labour's motion, which pledged to discourage the use of fire-and-rehire among the council's private contractors, was supported by the Liberal Democrats and voted through.

However, Conservative group leader Nic Stansby said: "I get where you're coming from with this, but it's a balancing act.

"This country has some of the best employment conditions in the world.

"It's very rare that a private business will fire and rehire. They only do it in absolute desperate times.

"You mention British Gas, but I'm looking at the smaller businesses.

"When they're faced with a choice of either losing the company altogether where everybody will lose their jobs, or agreeing a pay cut and everyone keeps their jobs and pay their mortgages, yes they will go towards fire and rehire."

Local Democracy Reporting Service