Shapps advocating fire and rehire

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps headshot photo

TSSA has accused Transport Secretary Grant Shapps of “advocating fire and rehire” tactics following his claims on media this morning that he will “impose modernisations through Section 188”.

Section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act is a duty requiring employers to consult trade union representatives. It is not a mechanism for imposing unilateral change. Such notice for compulsory redundancies has already been issued by Network Rail with their proposal to cut up to 1,900 jobs from the industry. This is not "reform" it's just cuts. It is one of the reasons why TSSA members are on strike.

Many of the changes being proposed require big changes to people's contracts of employment including rosters, more night shifts, and working practices. These require agreement between unions and the employer. This is another reason we are on strike.

Grant Shapps has not attended any talks with trade unions during the months-long dispute, despite repeated calls for him to come to the table or allow employers to negotiate freely without his and his department’s interference.

Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary, said: “This is yet more desperate stuff from Shapps intended to distract from the real issues in the rail dispute. He’s now actively advocating fire and rehire.

“Grant Shapps is touring TV studios spouting anti-worker nonsense when it’s actually within his gift as Transport Secretary to resolve this dispute. At every turn his actions ramp up the dispute and make it harder to get a resolution. It seems clear that he wants negotiations to fail. Any responsible Government or employer would understand the devastating impact of their policies on the railway workforce and seek to negotiate with their Unions to find a fair and just way forward. 

“Perhaps he’s more interested in trying to impress the next Prime Minister with his anti-union and worker-bashing rhetoric. Britain already has some of the toughest anti-union legislation restricting workers’ rights and his intended misuse of Section 188 – a legal duty to consult and intended to reach agreement – will only make things worse.

“Tightening the screw on trade unions won’t resolve the Tory cost-of-living crisis and the desperate calls from people across our country for a pay rise after years of pay freezes.”

Section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act describes a process for consulting redundancies and means:

"The consultation shall include consultation about ways of—

(a) avoiding the dismissals,

(b) reducing the numbers of employees to be dismissed, and

(c) mitigating the consequences of the dismissals,

and shall be undertaken by the employer with a view to reaching agreement with the appropriate representatives."

It is not a process of mandating changes if trade unions will not agree.

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