Retail trade union Usdaw is challenging Tesco’s fire and rehire tactics through the English courts, having won a temporary interdict in Scotland for staff at the Livingston distribution centre. Social justice law firm, Thompsons Solicitors, has today issued High Court proceedings.
A total of 74 workers employed at three Tesco distribution centres in England, two in Daventry and one in Litchfield, are at risk of having their terms slashed through a fire and rehire process, which will cost some of them a third of their wages.
Fire and rehire is a controversial process where employers fire employees before rehiring them immediately afterwards, on less favourable terms and conditions, often affecting pay, benefits and working hours.
Joanne McGuinness, Usdaw National Officer says:
“Our members are facing a huge cut in wages after Tesco moved to renege on a longstanding collective agreement on retained pay that was made in good faith. We won a major victory in the Scottish courts in the fight against these ‘fire and rehire’ tactics and we hope to replicate that in the High Court for our members in England.
“Tesco can stop this now by doing the right thing and withdrawing their threat to these longstanding staff, who have worked throughout the pandemic to keep stores stocked with the essential items we all rely on.”
Neil Todd, a trade union specialist at Thompsons Solicitors, says:
“This is a classic fire and re-hire tactic. Tesco’s attempt to move away from a retained pay arrangement by sacking and then rehiring its staff is not only controversial legally, but also morally bankrupt.
“Tesco has used the uncertainty of job security in the pandemic to manipulate its workers into taking worse terms because they are so scared of losing their jobs – and this comes not long after Tesco reported its pre-tax profit last year was £551 million. This is a slap in the face to its staff who have worked to the bone during the pandemic.”
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.