On Monday 25 January, Parliament debated a motion calling on the Government to abandon its rumoured plans to rip up hard-won workers’ rights now we have left the EU. It also called on the Government to outlaw the practice of fire and rehire, which is being used by companies across the UK to force thousands of working people to accept new contracts on less favourable terms.
I was able to participate in this debate virtually, and you can read my full speech below or you can watch it on my Facebook page.
Workers in Manchester and up and down the country are currently preoccupied negotiating the coronavirus pandemic – trying to stay safe and well, care for their children, fulfil working responsibilities, and keep businesses afloat – while the Government debates how best to rip up hard-won workers’ rights in post-Brexit Britain.
Among the changes being considered is abandoning the cap which prevents people from working more than 48-hours per week, as well as steps to undermine paid holiday entitlement and rest breaks at work.
Years of repeated assurances from the Government about its intention to protect, even strengthen, workers’ rights after Brexit have now been revealed to be utterly meaningless.
Many of the workers who will be affected by these changes are the same key workers Ministers were so keen to clap for in the summer.
Working people in my constituency have been through hell and back over the last year. They have made immense sacrifices and put themselves and their families at risk. And yet, this Government thinks they have too many rights.
This motion also calls on the Government to end the abhorrent practice of “fire and rehire” which is being used to threaten workers across the country. Dismissing employees only to re-employ them on less favourable terms in this current environment means working people are effectively paying for the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis.
In Manchester, Go North West is pushing ahead with its threat to fire and rehire bus drivers on new contracts. This will result in a 10% reduction in the number of drivers employed, an increase in unpaid working hours and drivers’ working conditions slashed.
Meanwhile thousands of British Gas workers are being threatened with fire and rehire by parent company Centrica.
Unions including Unite and GMB, as well as others across the country are fighting the threat of fire and rehire, and I want to thank all of them for their commitment and determination to protect working people during this difficult time.
The Government could step in and stop this disgusting practice today, but instead they have chosen to tear up existing rights. Weakening workers’ rights in the midst of a global pandemic and with the UK suffering the worst recession of any major economy is deeply unfair and reveals much about this Government’s priorities.