County Cllr for Skelmersdale West, Julie Gibson, the Labour Group Shadow Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration has reacted with dismay that the Government has backed down on its commitment to boost workers’ rights after ministers failed to include an employment bill in the Queen’s speech.
Cllr Gibson said: “Pre-covid in 2019, the Government promised that it would bring forward a new employment bill to improve people’s rights at work. Two years on no legislation has been brought forward and with the absence of any outlined legislation within the Queen’s Speech we can see that workers’ rights are bottom of the list when it comes to this Government’s priorities.”
She continued: “The pandemic has exposed the reality of unsafe working conditions and practices for many of our key workers. With the economy still to recover from the full effects of Covid many workers still find themselves in insecure employment. Not only that many companies are using the horrible tactic of fire and re-hire and zero-hour contracts to exploit workers who are worried about losing their jobs.”
Cllr Gibson said: “The tactic of fire and re-hire is one example of this type of exploitative practice as it allows employers to fire workers and then re-employ them on less favourable terms and conditions of employment as a cost cutting exercise. Even before the pandemic 1 in 9 workers – 3.8 million people were already in insecure employment meaning they did not have access to basic rights at work and could be dismissed at will. (figs from TUC). It is estimated that because of fire and re-hire tactics, this number will grow and the knock-on effect of that is many more people are in insecure work and at risk of falling into poverty.”
“The Government talks about “Building Back Better”, but we will never “Build Back Better” if that building back involves insecure work and exploitative employment practices. As we come out of the pandemic, we need to ensure that all workers are treated with dignity and respect and put an end to these exploitative practices.”