Retail trade union Usdaw has today blasted the Government for standing by while workers’ terms and conditions are eroded, and committed to continuing to campaign for an end to ‘fire and rehire’ and stronger redundancy rights.
Speaking online at the TUC’s annual congress, Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary said: “The retail workforce is facing a crisis of devastating proportions. The sector was already facing huge structural difficulties before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. The pandemic has made things even tougher for retail businesses and for retail workers. So far this year, around 50 shops have closed every day, leaving more and more of our high streets blemished with the scars of boarded up shops lying empty, as household retail names fall by the wayside and outlets close. And many more who have managed to stay open are cutting jobs, through round after round of restructuring. This is a crisis spiralling out of control, with no sign of the Government intervention that retail workers so desperately need.
“Far too many workers’ jobs are in peril and so are their terms and conditions. It’s no surprise that this Government has also stood by while workers’ terms and conditions are eroded. Even the Prime Minister has agreed that the practice of ‘fire and rehire’ is unacceptable, but his Government has done nothing about it. This is another example of the difference a Labour Government can make. Right now trade unions are fighting against this appalling practice in the workplace and in the courts. We will continue that fight – and we must fight for stronger redundancy rights too.
“Losing your job is devastating. It’s even worse when you don’t have adequate rights or training opportunities. We need to join forces to campaign for better redundancy rights. The current legislation allows too many workers to fall through the cracks. We need to close the nonsensical loophole on collective consultation. A loophole that allows big employers to avoid consulting over thousands of redundancies – simply because those workers are in locations with fewer than 20 staff.
“We must campaign for increased statutory redundancy pay, to give workers a proper safety net. And we must campaign for a retraining budget for all workers given notice of redundancy, because they deserve the best chance of re-entering the workforce, with as little disruption to their lives as possible. As furlough support ends and we enter a period of great uncertainty for our economy and for working people, we must focus our efforts on campaigning for an end to ‘fire and rehire’ and stronger redundancy rights.”