MINISTERS must review their contracts with “un-British” G4S, Labour stormed yesterday after EU judges vindicated the security firm’s decision to sack an employee for wearing a headscarf.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Tuesday that G4S was justified in dismissing Samira Achbita in 2006 from one of their offices in Belgium, giving bosses the ability to ban political or religious clothing and jewellery across the EU, subject to domestic law.
But, in Westminster, MPs on both sides agreed that the ruling would contradict British values and law if applied here.
Labour MP Rushanara Ali asked during an urgent question on the matter in the Commons: “Will government contracts be reviewed for G4S?
“Because this is unacceptable and un-British what they have done,” said the Bethnal Green and Bow MP.
Her concerns were echoed by Labour colleague Helen Goodman, who said the “culturally loaded” moves would disproportionately affect Muslim women.
The “neutrality” issue over dress codes is “illogical,” shadow women and equalities minister Sarah Champion said.
“A customer, patient or service user couldn’t make a valid assumption as to the religious persuasions of the company — or if the company is particularly favouring one religious group over another — by virtue of how the employees dress.
“Already the far-right across Europe are rallying around this judgment.”
New guidelines will be issued by the government to clarify the law after the ruling, Women and Equalities Minister Caroline Dinenage said.
The government is “absolutely clear that the Equalities Act, the rights of women and employees would be unchanged,” she said.
And speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, Theresa May said there are no plans to legislate on workplace dress codes or stifle freedom of expression