The Government appreciate the difficulties that many people are currently facing and are sympathetic to those who are worried about their jobs. We are clear that using threats about firing and rehiring as a negotiating tactic is unacceptable. However, businesses in real financial difficulty need flexibility to offer new terms and conditions in order to save as many jobs as they can.
First it was British Airways, and now British Gas/Centrica has threatened thousands of employees with fire and rehire tactics, including a number of my constituents, such as Wayne and Paul. These people have many decades of experience working for these British companies and our society. Will the Minister join me in condemning the company’s actions? What action is the Department taking to ensure that these deplorable approaches are dealt with? Write to them.
It is not acceptable for employers to use unacceptable negotiating tactics, including fire and rehire. I understand that it is a difficult situation for employees to find themselves in. There are commercial matters between employers and employees, but we expect employers to treat their staff in the spirit of partnership. In the vast majority of cases—unlike the ones that have just been outlined—employers do want to do the right thing, and there are processes in place to prevent abuse.
Heathrow, British Airways and British Gas—all flagship companies—have used abusive fire and rehire tactics to cut the pay and conditions of their loyal work forces. Rolls-Royce in Barnoldswick is home of the jet engine and the battle of Britain aircraft. Hundreds of staff there are being made redundant and their jobs offshored to Singapore, Spain and Japan. These iconic companies have received billions of pounds of taxpayers’ cash, so why did the Government not make retaining jobs a condition of this financial help? Does the Minister recognise that by providing no-strings-attached support, the Government have facilitated UK jobs being either downgraded or moved out of the country at the taxpayers’ expense?
We have worked with and supported the aviation sector in a number of different ways. We have also made it really clear that when companies want to make redundancies, they should follow the correct consultation process. It is important that we get the balance right to protect jobs for those companies.