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Government employment rights statement a missed opportunity to resolve workplace injustices says Usdaw

Date: 08 June 2021 Retail trade union Usdaw has branded today’s Government announcement about a new worker’s rights watchdog as a missed opportunity to address many of the wider issues workers are facing.
The new watchdog will take over responsibility for tackling modern slavery and enforcing the minimum wage. The plans will see the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and HMRC’s minimum wage enforcement combine to create a single body.

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Action to ensure the minimum wage is rigorously enforced is long overdue, but today’s announcement comes against a backdrop of the Conservatives slashing funding for enforcement during their time in Government.

“The announcement gives no extra protections for our members and does nothing to tackle low-pay and the abuse, threats and violence they face. We remain deeply disappointed that the Government continues to reject a new ‘protection of workers’ law.

“The Government backtracked on their manifesto promise and failed to bring forward an Employment Bill that could have banned ‘fire and rehire’. Instead they shelved the Bill and have made this piecemeal announcement, while simply pointing to voluntary ACAS guidance.

“Fire and re-hire tactics, to enforce contractual changes by sacking and then rehiring staff, is legally controversial and morally bankrupt. Disgracefully, across the UK, we’ve seen a growing number of businesses using the uncertainty of job security in the pandemic to manipulate workers into taking worse terms. It is long overdue that the Government outlawed this practice. The Prime Minister has called it 'unacceptable’, but those words are meaningless without action.

“In the absence of legal restraints on employers preventing them from using ‘fire and rehire’ Usdaw has been forced to challenge the practice at Tesco through the High Court, having won a temporary interdict in the Scottish Court. Also Usdaw members at BCM Fareva have been forced to engage in industrial action, opposing a pre-emptive threat to ‘fire and rehire’ staff.

“As the country tries to recover from the pandemic, we don’t just need rigorous enforcement of the minimum wage, we need a new deal for workers. A new deal that includes a minimum wage of at least £10 per hour, more secure contracts, a banning of ‘fire and rehire’ and better sick pay.”

Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers