Members of the RMT union in the offshore industry, working for the Vatenfall wind farm company, are facing a “fire and rehire” attack.
They say their employer has threatened to sack workers and re-engage them on worse terms and conditions. The new contracts will involve a number of detrimental changes, including cuts to annual leave. Vatenfall bosses have denied making “fire and rehire” threats.
“Fire and rehire” is all the rage at the moment, as it offers bosses a straightforward and direct way to make cuts and level down conditions. British Gas workers are currently striking against such an attack, and we’ve also seen strikes by Tower Hamlets council workers, British Airways workers, and Heathrow Airport workers against “fire and rehire” schemes.
Labour leader Keir Starmer used his speech at the TUC Congress in September 2020 to call for “fire and rehire” to be made illegal. Unfortunately, neither he nor the Labour Party as a whole has followed up that call with any concerted campaigning.
We haven’t yet had a “fire and rehire” attack in a major rail industry employer, but if the bosses’ offensive gathers pace it’s surely only a matter of time. A nationally-coordinated campaign between unions, democratically run and centrally involving workers in struggle, against “fire and rehire” could stop that offensive in its tracks.
An online meeting bringing together rank-and-file reps from amongst the currently affected workers would be an excellent start.