Category Archives: Employment

Isn’t Labour’s new employment policy hypocritical, as Starmer practises ‘fire and rehire’?

Keir Starmer: a Tory in a red tie?

How can Keir Starmer seriously propose banning ‘fire and rehire’ policies by employers when he has brought that odious practice to the Labour Party?

This Site reported on July 21 that Starmer has almost bankrupted Labour, making it necessary for the party to axe 90 full-time jobs.

At the same time, Starmer was hiring 30-50 staff on short-term contracts. I stated:

That’s ‘fire and rehire’ because you know some of the axed staff will have been doing the same work that the new employees will be asked to do – and some of these jobs will be occupied by the same people.

The mainstream media has picked up on this, with The Independent reporting on it only a day or so ago.

How tone-deaf, then, for Starmer to send his deputy leader, Angela Rayner, out to promote a policy that condemns ‘fire and rehire’!

Consider this, from the BBC’s article on the new policy:

Labour also says it wants to outlaw “fire and rehire” practices whereby employers dismiss workers and then offer to hire them back under new, often poorer, terms and conditions.

That is exactly what Starmer is doing.

The new policy has other holes that have led critics to claim that it is merely tinkering around the edges of employment law and not revolutionising it at all.

For example, the “real living wage” of £10 per hour has been attacked as not being enough to lift anybody out of dependence on state benefits or – in extreme cases – food banks.

This is simply not good enough.

Under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour devised policies that would have changed the UK from a country that exploits its population for the benefit of a tiny minority – which is what it is now, and don’t you forget it – into a progressive, trailblazing nation that valued all of its citizens.

Our success as a nation would have been valued, not by the number of billionaires we had, but by the absence of poverty.

But Starmer isn’t interested in this.

His plan isn’t revolutionary. It is hypocritical and so is he.

And the truth of that is clear to everybody.

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Has Sajid Javid ditched his extra-Parliamentary jobs or is he breaking the rules too?

Sajid Javid: look at that blank-eyed stare and ask yourself whether his appointment is good for the UK – or good for the banks who employed him?

Sajid Javid is going to have to try a lot harder if he wants us to think he can do the Health Secretary job better than Matt Hancock.

He has made a a ham-fist of it by trying to put down a vital question over conflict of interest between his new Cabinet role and his extra-Parliamentary jobs with JP Morgan bank and… who’s the other one with? – by failing to answer it.

In the Commons, Labour backbencher Richard Burgon asked – well, see for yourself, along with Javid’s ridiculous non-answer:

Yes, the Daily Express loved it, but that just shows the depths to which national journalistic standards have fallen.

It is perfectly reasonable to want to know whether a Cabinet minister is giving up jobs that might conflict with his duty to the nation.

I want to know if Javid is going to blab government secrets to JP Morgan and I want to know if he’s going to give away information – against the national interest – to his other employer.

That is, after all, the most likely reason they employed him.

He was warned by ACOBA – the Advisory Committee On Business Appointments – that there were “potential risks” that he could provide “privileged information” that would give his employer an unfair advantage over its competitors, in spring last year when he took the JP Morgan job.

ACOBA provided advice on how to avoid “potential risks” but it is easy to circumvent them. The only way to ensure that former ministers don’t blab is to forbid them from taking jobs until any information they had is out of date and useless.

Two years has been suggested as a reasonable period of delay but Javid took his jobs straight away and at the time of writing, the suggested period has still not expired.

It has been suggestted that Javid has already given up his outside jobs.

But if that’s true, where’s the evidence? We cannot rely on his say-so because he belongs to an organisation of liars, headed by a liar. We simply cannot trust him.

And that is the reason MPs – and commentators like This Site – are demanding full disclosure, as you can see from the following representative sample on Twitter:

Of course there are also serious questions to be answered about the decision to appoint Javid to the Health portfolio, considering his extremely shady history:

As far as his actual ability to do the Health Secretary job is concerned, Javid has already disgraced himself. But that’s another story…

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Kicking up Dido: Harding goes through with her threat to apply for top NHS England job

Useless: Tory money pit and expertise vacuum Dido Harding. She has applied to run NHS England and privatisation-loving Tories probably think she’s perfect for the job.

North American slang defines “dido” as “a mischievous trick or prank”; here in the UK, if you “kick up dido” then you are creating a fuss or a row.

How appropriate, then, is the given name of Ms Harding – the incompetent who has made disasters of Talk Talk* and the government’s Covid-19 test and trace system – now we know she has applied for the job running the NHS in England?

Dido Harding’s own ability to turn everything she touches into excrement is well-documented. Even the injection of £37 billion couldn’t make her test and trace system work.

She is also the wife of Conservative MP John Penrose, who actively campaigns for the National Health Service to be replaced by a privately-run insurance system.

This connection to a Tory MP should disqualify Harding’s application; there would be a conflict of interest and her appointment to a job that should be apolitical would be seen as politically-biased and corrupt…

But we know that complaints would fall on deaf ears because, remember Mr Penrose? The husband? Not only is he a Tory MP, but is also their anti-corruption tsar.

So if she gets the job, the Tories will merrily say there’s nothing dodgy about the appointment and Penrose will merrily agree, in the knowledge that having his wife in charge of the NHS brings him a huge step closer to destroying it forever.

And her application lives up to both definitions of her name.

All of this information is well-known:

With Harding in charge, the failure of NHS systems seems a foregone conclusion – and of course, such a failure would be used as an excuse to privatise the service:

Nobody in the UK who relies on the NHS should support privatisation.

It changes the service’s priority from improving UK citizens’ health to making a profit for healthcare firms’ shareholders.

*I should add that, post-Harding, Talk Talk has recovered very well (I’m familiar with at least one very happy customer).

So there is a glimmer of hope: even if Harding gets the job, she might be so bad at it that even the Tories have to admit she has to go (anything is possible).

And if she is ousted, then her replacement might actually provide an adequate service.

Hope springs eternal. So, even if this serial inadequate gets the job, she might still – possibly – help the NHS in the long run.

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Government to give employees a right to work from home – but are there strings attached?

This is home working: check out the complete lack of anything resembling a business suit, the face that hasn’t seen a razor in days, and the portrait of a CAT in a military uniform in the background. And at its height, This Site is read by 180,000 people in a day. No wonder I’ve got a manic grin all over my face.

On the face of it, this is an amazingly progressive move by one of the most regressive governments in UK history.

According to the Mail (and other news outlets), Boris Johnson is pushing forward with a 2019 Tory manifesto commitment to give people the right to work from home unless employers can demonstrate that office working is essential.

Consultation on the plan will take place over the summer, hopefully taking into account the experiences of firms whose employees have worked from home during the Covid-19 crisis.

A survey has shown that 71 per cent of firms found home working either made no difference to their productivity – or boosted it.

Labour has raised concerns over the plan.

In a comment, Angela Rayner said:

We cannot have one-sided flexibility that allows employers to dictate terms to their workers when it comes to flexible working arrangements.

The starting point must be a strengthening of workers’ rights on flexible working so that workers are not pressured or blackmailed back into unsafe workplaces.

From the Mail‘s article, that’s not what’s going on here. But I can’t advise anyone to trust the Tories to do the right thing, so we’ll have to stay sceptical until we can read the small print of the proposed legislation.

Personally, up until Covid, This Writer seemed to have a unique perspective on home working.

I quit the last newspaper to employ me as a staffer because I wasn’t allowed to work from home after the local office that was my base was moved from a barely-manageable 27 miles from home to a diabolical 41 miles away.

When the idea of moving the office’s location was mooted, I complained vehemently (although admittedly I wasn’t then the monster who writes for you today).

Because most of my stories were generated in the area where I lived, it meant I may spend a huge amount of working time on the road – time better-spent working on news stories.

I said the only way I would be able to carry on is if I worked from home four days a week (not five, because sometimes attending the office can be important).

It wasn’t until after the office move had taken place that I was told that this would not be permitted. The impression I had was that managers assumed I wouldn’t actually do any work without one of them looking over my shoulder.

So I quit. I leave it up to you to judge whether the collapse of the Mid Wales edition of that paper a few months later had anything to do with my departure and the reason for it.

Of course, all of the work I have done on Vox Political has been from home. It is now my main source of income and at one point last year I had nearly 180,000 hits in a day.

So, y’know, I’ve always been convinced that home working is not only possible, but profitable.

I’m glad Covid has demonstrated this more widely.

And I hope the Tory government recognises it in any legislation it brings forward.

Source: Shock plans to work from home forever: Ministers propose to make it illegal to be forced into office | Daily Mail Online

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Queen’s Speech confirms it: Boris Johnson is renewing his attack on your freedom – because it’s what Britain wanted

Manifesto commitment: the Conservatives made their plan to end democracy clear in their 2019 election manifesto. Every Conservative voter demanded an end to democracy and a slide into dictatorship.

Boris Johnson is getting back to business after the Covid crisis – and his business is stripping you of the liberties and freedoms your ancestors fought hard to win over the last several hundred years.

Be in no doubt: you will have lost most of your rights by the end of this Parliamentary term, and you can thank your Tory-voting neighbour for making it happen.

Included in the Queen’s Speech were announcements that all three main planks of the attack on democracy – listed on Page 48 of the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto, so everybody who voted Tory absolutely supported them – are still going forward. They are:

  • Removing your right to protest so they can use the police and armed forces to put down any dissent.

  • Imposing dictatorship by ensuring that the courts cannot stop the Tories from breaking the law.

  • Imposing indefinite Conservative government.

The only one of these that has been given prominence by the mainstream media is the last – the planned repeal of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act. This has been reported as meaning that Johnson would be able to call elections before his Parliament has served its full five-year term.

But it could also mean that he will allow himself to delay elections indefinitely.

The FTP Act repealed the previous electoral law that allowed prime ministers to call elections at any time during their five-year term, but demanded that they must call an election to be held after five years, no matter what.

So repealing the FTP Act means that unscrupulous prime ministers like Johnson would be able to call elections whenever they liked – or simply neglect to call them at all and remain in power indefinitely.

This is what will happen unless he specifically writes new limitations on Parliamentary terms into his new law. And why would a corrupt liar like Johnson do that when he has a majority of 80 seats in the Commons and can currently do whatever he likes without fear of punishment?

Worse still, the new legislative programme includes more attacks on democracy, the most important being the planned limitation of the right to vote to those who can afford to show the proper photographic identification.

This, Johnson claims, is to stop electoral fraud. You may assume that this is a rampant problem across the UK, but in fact it is practically nonexistent. His plan will strip the vote from around two million people:

Here’s a graph showing the scale of voter fraud as a percentage of all votes cast:

You see the picture?

Further information is available below:

The plan will strip votes from people who are poor and young – in other words, people who will not vote for the Conservatives at the next election. It is corrupt Tory gerrymandering to prevent the voice of the people from being heard at elections.

Typically of the current Tory government, its MPs tried to justify the planned law by lying to us about it. Gillian Keegan, whoever she is, claimed you need photo ID to pick up a parcel from the Post Office – and was put straight in no uncertain terms by fact-checking site Full Fact:

Many of us think valuable Parliamentary time would be better spent preventing the kind of corruption that allowed Tory cronies to gain multi-million pound contracts to provide vital supplies in the fight against Covid-19, that they were totally unable to fulfil. What happened to all that money?

Finally, shall we consider the misplaced priorities of these entitled Tories who have spent more than a decade manslaughtering benefit claimants without feeling any need to reform the system?

Come to that, why isn’t the government introducing plans to end tax evasion? I mention this because the deaths of disabled benefit claimants are linked to the Tory clampdown on claims – the so-called “magic cures” that claimed hundreds of thousands of people were not disabled at all, despite volumes of medical evidence showing they were. These people were unceremoniously stripped of their benefits and many of them subsequently died. The figure of 120,000, quoted above, is a very low estimate.

The Tories spend huge amounts of money every year on their campaign to strip disabled people of their ability to survive. It is a campaign of persecution that has been more successful in eliminating the disabled than the infamous Nazi “Aktion T4” in 1930s and 1940s Germany. In comparison, they spend hardly anything on tracking the rich Tories – let’s not deny it – who have evaded their tax responsibilities in order to squirrel away trillions of pounds in tax havens abroad.

Absent from the new legislative programme are any plans to support the rights of workers with promised reforms to zero-hours contracts and the gig economy, and an end to the practice of “fire and rehire” – terminating workers’ contracts and then demanding they take new contracts with lower pay and fewer privileges:

“Fire and rehire” is a key element of Howard Beckett’s campaign to lead the UK’s largest union, Unite. He was in London to campaign about it while the Queen was delivering her speech:

He has also made the very obvious point that the currrent Labour leadership has no interest in looking after the interests of British workers – because Keir Starmer actually refused to oppose “fire and rehire”.

The oppression goes on and on:

Long-awaited plans for reform of social care – promised by the Tories years ago – went undiscussed. There is no plan for such reforms in the current Parliamentary term.

Admittedly, Andy Burnham is right to say all parties are responsible for allowing social care to fall into the disrepair we have today; New Labour failed to do anything about it too.

And Death Health Secretary Matt Hancock has claimed the government is committed to social care reforms this year – 2021:

He spent the whole of 2020 lying about the severity of Covid-19 and justifying his decisions to award government contracts worth billions of pounds to Tory cronies who couldn’t fulfil them. What are his words worth?

Oh, and before anyone suggests that plans to address the climate crisis show at least some hope for the Tories, they don’t:

For a more detailed attack on the new legislative programme, take a look at Unite’s response (under current leader Len McCluskey). I’m sure other critiques are also available.

Last word can go to Smokey, below, who makes an excellent point despite their inability to spell the word “speech”:

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You clapped NHS workers – now they face scummy ‘fire and rehire’ plan to worsen work conditions

There could not be a more striking example of the truism that a battle may have been won but the war continues.

Late last month, This Site celebrated British Airways’s decision to end ‘fire and rehire’ tactics.

Today I saw this, from Zarah Sultana – one of Labour’s remaining worthwhile MPs. I include the follow-up tweet for its relevance:

They were referring to a decision by a National Health Service hospital in Birmingham to fire its porters – unless they sign new contracts that put them on worse pay and conditions.

Around 140 workers, who are members of the Unison union, have been told that they must accept new, rotating shift patterns or face redundancy.

Heartlands is part of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, which is headed up by former Labour home secretary Jacqui Smith.

The city’s eight Labour MPs have written to Smith condemning the firing and rehiring.

Rightly so. ‘Fire and rehire’ is one of the lowest employment practices permitted in the United Kingdom.

It is only permitted because the Conservative government allows it – and actively uses it in the NHS.

That’s the same Conservative government whose members hypocritically stood in the street and clapped NHS employees every Thursday for many weeks last year.

It seems Tory gratitude only lasts as long as a photo opportunity.

That’s how they can be beaten, of course. They hate bad publicity.

And this should be all over the headlines. Why isn’t it?

Is it because the Tory media are suppressing it?

Well, if you fancy a bit of homework, how about doing something to raise the profile of this issue, like asking your favourity newspaper, TV or radio channel where their coverage is?

Source: Heartlands hospital porters defy threat of the sack from bullying bosses

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Kwarteng gives up plan to cut workers’ rights post-Brexit

Kwasi Kwarteng: “We’re not interested in watering down workers’ rights.”

It seems Kwasi Kwarteng has been shamed into giving up on a review of UK workers’ rights post-Brexit that could have significantly reduced the living standards of millions of people.

Only last week, the Business Secretary confirmed that he was consulting businesses in plans that could include an end to the 48-hour maximum working week, changes to rules about breaks at work, and the removal of in-work benefits.

But he told Robert Peston yesterday (January 27):

“The review is no longer happening within the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). I made it very very clear to officials in the department that we’re not interested in watering down workers’ rights.

“I can’t have been more clear about this on a number of occasions. I’ve said repeatedly that Brexit gives us the opportunity to have higher standards and a higher growth economy and that’s what officials in the department are 100% focused on.”

Was he shamed into this u-turn?

This Site and many others recently reminded Kwarteng that he is a co-author of the notorious collection of hard-right-wing Tory essays, Britannia Unchained.

The book dared to claim that British workers – the power behind the Industrial Revolution and a huge amount of progress that has changed the world – are lazy.

But Kwarteng and his fellow authors, including current Home Secretary Priti Patel, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, and Queen of Cheese Liz Truss, were found to be among the laziest MPs in Parliament at the time, with some of the worst attendance records.

This change of plan comes after the union Unite struck a deal with British Airways to end the despicable practice of “fire and re-hire” – forcing workers out of their jobs in order to make them re-apply for the same work at lower pay and with worse working conditions.

It is another great victory for working people at a time when Tories might expect to be able to get away with anything.

Source: Review of UK workers’ rights post-Brexit is axed in sudden U-turn | Kwasi Kwarteng | The Guardian

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Victory in fight against ‘fire and rehire’ by British Airways after Unite union secures deal

This is great news at a time when companies seem keen to ramp up the stress on employees who already have enough worry with Covid-19.

British Airways has agreed to end so-called “fire and rehire” employment practices.

The company came to the deal after nine days of strike action over the Christmas/New Year period which the union United said caused “overwhelming disruption to the company’s cargo services”.

Unite had proposed a urther nine days of strike action to start on January 22 but the first three days were called off at the last minute, after progress was made at the negotiations.

Another round of strikes due to begin this weekend has also been called off.

The deal is as follows:

  • End of “fire and rehire” (the last area of BA where this was a threat)

  • Workers will revert to previous contractual provisions subject to agreed changes

  • No compulsory redundancies

  • Improved pay protection for staff whose pay sits above the new agreed rates

  • An increase in pay for a significant proportion of staff

  • Members who did not sign the new contract and were dismissed will be offered their jobs back on the agreed terms.

Unite’s members will have to be balloted on the deal, and it is understood that they are likely to accept it.

It’s a great victory for Unite, but let’s not minimise the step that BA has taken at a time when other firms are opportunistically forcing employees to re-apply to do the same job they’re already doing, but for less money and with fewer work-related protections.

BA is setting an example, and even if nobody else follows it, let’s applaud that choice.

Source: Unite ends BA ‘fire and rehire’ dispute by securing deal to avoid forthcoming cargo strike action

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Turncoat Tories who clapped key workers are now planning to stab them in the back

Here’s a relatively new buzzphrase for you: “Fire and re-hire.”

It has become the latest fashion among big corporations in the UK, with multiple strikes taking place over recent weeks as unions have done their best to protest this despicable practice.

The aim is to fire workers, then hire them back immediately – at a lower rate of pay (and possibly with fewer in-work benefits as well).

This means bosses have more cash to pass around among themselves and shareholders – and there’s the added bonus of causing unnecessary unpleasantness to the people who actually generate the profits that these parasites enjoy.

This week, Conservative MPs had a chance to support a Parliamentary motion stating that “fire and re-hire” should be banned. They didn’t even turn up.

Labour has been all over this.

I dare say every Labour MP with a Twitter account has put up something similar.

The Tory press was more interested in hounding Labour’s Ian Byrne for joining a picket line to stop British Gas from using these despicable ‘fire and rehire’ practices.

Here’s Mr Byrne to say what he’s been up to:

Tory rags attacked Byrne for travelling 42 miles to Stockport during lockdown.

They omitted mention of the fact that he was well within his rights as the travel was related to his job, and he was perfectly entitled to do it.

Also, of course, Boris Johnson had travelled to another country, and the Tory rags didn’t utter a whisper about that!

I think Rachael is right. So is Karie:

The TUC has published an article pointing out that “fire and re-hire” is the diametric opposite of Boris Johnson’s claim that he intends to “level up” the UK – as it levels-down workers’ pay and living standards.

The threat of fire-and-rehire, when workers are dismissed and told to reapply for their roles on inferior terms, has been used in sectors from aviation to hospitality in recent months.

And workers at British Gas are currently taking industrial action against an attempt by bosses to unilaterally cut their pay and conditions.

A poll published by the TUC today reveals that nearly one in 10 (9%) workers have been told to re-apply for their jobs on worse terms and conditions since the first lockdown in March.

Nearly a fifth of 18-24 year-olds say their employer has tried to re-hire them on inferior terms during the pandemic.

And twice as many black and minority ethnic (BME) workers (15%) have been faced with “fire and rehire” as white workers (8%)

The Tories – absent from the vote to support banning the practice – were probably instead plotting ways to water down workers’ rights even further.

After Brexit, the Tory government has an opportunity to inflict huge harm on the people who power the national economy. Kwasi Kwarteng may be denying it but if that wasn’t the plan, where were they during the “fire and re-hire” vote?

Bizarrely, the Tories have been helped in this plan by British voters.

British voters voted to leave the European Union.

And British voters voted to give Boris Johnson a Parliamentary majority of 80 seats, to make sure that he would be able to give employers carte blanche to steal pay from the hands of their employees.

Ask these British voters who they would support in a future election and I’m willing to bet that most of them would say they’d support the Tories again.

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Kwarteng to launch post-Brexit ‘review’ of workers’ rights. Shall we make some predictions?

Kwasi Kwarteng: a few years ago he said, “Fracking is over.” Will he soon be saying, “workers’ rights are over” too?

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has admitted he is reviewing protections to UK workers’ rights.

Kwarteng has denied plans to strip us of our entitlement to paid holidays and other protections – but he is infamous for having condemned UK workers are “among the worst idlers in the world”, that the UK “rewards laziness” and “too many people in Britain prefer a lie-in to hard work”.

When he stated this in the book Britannia Unchained, he was slated as a hypocrite because his own record for attending Parliament was among the worst of all MPs. One can only hope being promoted to a ministerial position has instilled a sense of diligence in him. But I doubt it.

The business secretary has confirmed his department is reviewing how EU employment rights protections could be changed after Brexit, while insisting they will not be watered down.

The Guardian understands a consultation on employment rights was signed off by Kwasi Kwarteng’s predecessor Alok Sharma… Insiders say the consultation is ready to launch and has been circulated among some select business leaders.

If business leaders are being asked to provide input before the consultation even starts, then the aim seems clear: to coerce working people into making more money for their employers and taking home less for themselves.

I’ve been writing about this since before the EU referendum, and I fancy having a stab at predicting how we’ll be attacked.

The rights most at risk would be:
• Working time rules, including limits on working hours and rules on the amount of holiday pay a worker is entitled to;
• Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE), i.e. the EU-derived protections to the terms and conditions of workers at an organisation or service that is transferred or outsourced to a new employer;
• Protections for agency workers and other ‘atypical’ workers, such as part-time workers;
• Current levels of compensation for discrimination of all kinds, including equal pay awards and age discrimination; and
• Rights for workers’ representatives to be consulted if major changes are planned that will change people’s jobs or result in redundancies (as have been used in recent major announcements in the steel industry).

Feel free to add your own predictions to the comment column.

Source: Business secretary confirms post-Brexit review of UK workers’ rights | Brexit | The Guardian

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