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Logistics union warns of strike action against ‘creeping culture’ of fire and rehire

LOGISTICS workers will use strike action if needed to defend pay and conditions against bosses’ “creeping culture” of fire-and-rehire tactics, the Unite union pledged today.

Warning that shop stewards across the distribution and retail sectors were reporting attempts by employers to “salami slice” pay and conditions, blaming “market conditions,” the union signalled its intention to draw “a line in the sand” against the practice.

Unite reps at a number of companies, including Argos, Eddie Stobart, the Co-op, Gist, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Wincanton, were concerned at the proliferation of “fire and rehire” proposals, the union said.

And it pledged to support workers defending hard-won pay and conditions, including with industrial action if needed.

“Fire and rehire is an abomination, and the ability of employers to sack workers so they can remove established terms and conditions should be erased from the statute book,” said Adrian Jones, Unite’s national officer for road transport and logistics.

Bosses had made millions in profits out of workers who had worked tirelessly through the pandemic, yet were using the crisis as an excuse to “salami slice” pay and conditions, he said.

But Unite shop stewards had “pledged to support any workers who are facing this sustained attack on their living standards,” and the union would not hesitate “to take industrial action to oppose employers who are engaging in this creeping culture of ‘fire and rehire’,” Mr Jones said.

Unite’s warning follows the victory in an Edinburgh court earlier this week by retail union Usdaw, which prevented Tesco forcing staff at its Livingston distribution centre onto new contracts that would have cost them thousands of pounds in pay.

After winning an interdict against Tesco in the Scottish Court of Session, which temporarily blocked a unilateral move to withdraw entitlement to retained pay, Usdaw urged the company to withdraw similar fire-and-rehire threats against workers at its Lichfield, Daventry and Avonmouth distribution centres.

Usdaw national officer Joanne McGuinness said that members were facing pay cuts of as much as £19,000, and hailed what was “a major victory in the fight against ‘fire-and-rehire’ tactics, which are now being used by too many businesses.”

“Tesco can stop this now, by doing the right thing and withdrawing its threat to these longstanding staff, who have worked throughout the pandemic to keep stores stocked with the essential items we all rely on,” Ms McGuinness said.

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