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Fighting fire and rehire

Amid a general upsurge in organised workers fighting back, we need to build a specific campaign against this shameful ruling-class tactic, writes MARY ADOSSIDES

THE notorious tactic of fire and rehire has been a favourite tool used by employers to push the costs of the pandemic onto workers. It is in the headlines constantly, as one employer after another puts a gun to workers’ heads and tells them to take worse pay and worse working conditions or face unemployment.

Bosses of Britain’s biggest companies will have made more money in 2022 in a day than the average British worker will earn in a year. Super-rich shareholders demand their dividend payments — workers and their families are expected to pay the price.

Household names like British Gas, British Airways, Tesco, Clarks and Weetabix are using the disruption of the Covid crisis to threaten workers with the sack in order to drive down their wages and get more work for less pay.

Recently the Forest School, a prestigious independent school in north-east London, was accused by the NEU of putting pressure on teachers threatened by fire and rehire over pensions. School bosses want them replaced with an alternative that will offer “no guarantee as to what will be paid in retirement.” Teachers were warned if they resist they could be sacked and rehired on inferior contracts with a new inferior pensions scheme from September.

The government had previously promised a new Bill on employment rights, but this has yet to materialise despite ample opportunity. Barry Gardiner’s private member’s Bill aiming to make fire and rehire illegal did not win majority support in Parliament.

We need to learn the lessons, build union organisation and build a political fight against the dictatorship of big business, profiteering and finance capital — and keep up the pressure to make this ruling-class tactic illegal.

Many workers and their unions are organising and resisting, fighting back and winning gains. 2022 must be the year when we continue to make gains and build resistance to this capitalist offensive.

Register for the webinar on fire and rehire jointly organised by the London Morning Star Readers and Supporters Group and the London CPB on Thursday January 20 at 7pm — Register at www.cpb.tiny.us/28htchn6. Speakers: Steve Turner (Unite Assistant general secretary), Sean Kettle (Unite regional officer), Lord John Hendy QC, and Professor Mary Davis — RMT president Alex Gordon will chair.

Mary Adossides is secretary of the Communist Party’s London district committee.

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