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Employment

‘Fire and rehire’ tactics used on 1 in 10 workers, says TUC

The TUC said ‘fire and rehire’ tactics were ‘plain wrong’ and called for the practice to be outlawed

Increasing numbers of workers are being told to re-apply for their jobs on lesser terms or face the sack, new polling by the TUC has found. 

The union claimed so-called “fire and rehire” tactics were becoming “widespread” during the pandemic, with nearly one in ten workers affected since March. 

This number goes up to almost one in five (18 per cent) for employees between 18 and 24, and BAME workers are allegedly twice as likely to be subject to similar tactics than their white counterparts.

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TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the practice of fire and rehire was “plain wrong” and called for it to be banned. 

“Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect at work. Forcing people to re-apply for their jobs on worse terms and conditions is plain wrong,” she said. 

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“Fire and re-hire tactics have no place in modern Britain and must be outlawed.” 

It comes after thousands of British Gas employees walked outover similar “threats” by the energy giant. Parent company Centrica insisted it is trying to protect jobs in a challenging market. 

British Gas engineers told the Big Issue of the “living nightmare” of going on strike after being asked to accept changes which workers claimed would “take money off them”. 

Bill Hawthorne, a British Gas engineer from Fife, said the changes to his working conditions could see him lose between £8,000 and £15,000 a year. 

According to the new polling, 24 per cent of workers said their working terms, including pay or hours, had been downgraded since first national lockdown in March. Nine per cent had been told to re-apply for their jobs on worse terms and conditions.

The TUC said this picture became even “bleaker” for those who are young, working-class, or from an ethnic minority background. 

Around 38 per cent of workers polled said they were also worried about job security in the year ahead. 

Boris Johnson promised “the largest upgrade to workers’ rights in a generation” during the 2019 general election campaign, with a bill expected later this year. 

O’Grady said the Government must deliver on this pledge to protect employees, adding: “Boris Johnson promised to make the UK the best place in the world to work in. It’s high time he delivered on this promise. 

“That means fast-tracking his much-delayed employment bill. And it means abandoning any attempt to water down hard-won workers’ rights from the EU.” 

The Big Issue is committed to helping keep the UK in their jobs and in their homes through the pandemic and beyond. Register for our jobs and training programme to get free training, regular careers advice and access to hundreds of thousands of job listings. Sign up here.

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