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CWU Conference 2022 Civil disobedience needed to resist fire-and-rehire attacks on workers

MASS peaceful civil disobedience is needed to resist fire-and-rehire attacks on workers, RMT’s Eddie Dempsey has said.

People must resist bosses who are “not following the rules,” the transport union’s assistant general secretary told a fringe meeting at the Communication Workers Union’s (CWU) annual conference on Monday evening. 

The event, called to highlight the widely condemned practice of threatening workers with the sack if they do not accept inferior contracts, was also addressed by CWU senior deputy general secretary Tony Kearns and Labour MP Barry Gardiner.

Mr Dempsey slammed ferry operator P&O for its sudden sacking of nearly 800 workers in March and highlighted the RMT warning that fire and rehire is set to be used against hundreds of Network Rail staff.

He told delegates in Bournemouth: “We’re going to try to create a culture of civil peaceful disobedience in this country.

“We’ve got to get out there with industrial strategies to make sure every depot, every workplace, is a fortress for the trade union movement and people are ready to come out and defend their rights.”

The labour movement must use the public outrage against fire and rehire to platform its new deal for workers, originally proposed by the CWU and now adopted by the TUC, Mr Dempsey argued.

Mr Gardiner blasted “pathetic proposals” by Tory ministers to “enhance guidance” on the use of the tactic instead of legislating against it.

The government filibustered the Brent North MP’s private member’s Bill to outlaw fire and rehire when it was debated in the Commons last autumn.

The former shadow international trade secretary accused ministers of deliberately spreading insecurity across society, saying: “If you’re insecure, you’ll take what bosses give you.

“That’s why it’s important for all unions to fight back.”

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