Reminders that the government blocked a new law to curb businesses’ ability to ‘fire-and-rehire’ have been making the rounds on social media following the controversial P&O debacle.
The ferry operator sparked outrage after sacking 800 seafarers and replacing them with cheaper agency workers.
Many of those fired were refusing to leave ships, leading to security guards with handcuffs being deployed to remove them.
The ferry operator, bought by Dubai-based logistics giant DP World in 2019, insisted the decision to cut jobs was “very difficult but necessary” as it was “not a viable business” in its current state.
In October of last year, new laws preventing businesses from laying off staff and taking them back on with different – often worse – pay and terms were rejected by the government.
Labour’s Barry Gardiner said the government was “cowardly” for using Parliamentary tactics to stop his bill in its tracks.
But No 10 said it wanted new guidance for companies, rather than a law.
A spokesman for Boris Johnson said at the time: “Using threats of firing and rehiring is completely unacceptable as a negotiating tactic. We expect companies to treat their employees fairly.
“However, there is insufficient evidence to show legislation will stop the practice or will be effective.”
Instead, the government says it will ask the arbitration service Acas to “produce more comprehensive clearer guidance to help all employers explore all the options before considering fire and rehire”.
The government ordered Conservative MPs to oppose the legislation.
But union chiefs said that amounted to siding with “bad” and “bullying” bosses.
The Labour Party ordered its MPs to support the bill, even though the party has said it would go further if it won power and ban fire-and-rehire completely.
Before voting on the bill itself, MPs voted on a closure motion – essentially a vote on whether to vote on the bill – and due to the government’s opposition, it failed to get enough support by 188 votes to 251.