Oldham Labour will call for a “new deal for workers” at the Council’s full meeting on Wednesday and call on The Prime Minister to protect the working conditions of Oldham residents.
Oldham Labour will pay tribute to front line workers who “kept the country going” throughout the pandemic, but will point out that the Living Wage Foundation estimates over 1 million are in insecure work, with approximately 3.8 million people in insecure work across the economy. The tactic of ‘fire and rehire’ (where employers force workers to reapply for jobs with lower pay and conditions or face the sack) has had a negative effect on North West workers, and particularly workers from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
Labour says that the outgoing Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has “continually refused to take action” to outlaw fire and rehire.
At the same time, wages have stagnated and many workers have experienced real term pay decline. The North West region has some of the highest levels of low pay, but in-work poverty is increasing nationally, with one in six working households now falling below the poverty line.
10.5 per cent of Oldham residents earned the National Minimum Wage, while 16,000 people earned less than the Real Living Wage (£9.90 an hour) in 2021.
Oldham Labour will instruct the Chief Executive to write to the Prime Minister to demand an end to fire and rehire, to uphold his repeated promises to protect the conditions of Oldham residents, and to demand that key workers receive a pay rise that matches inflation.
It will also commit the Council to not use fire and rehire as an employer, to encourage local businesses to adopt the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter, and to support the TUC’s campaign for a ‘New Deal for Working People’.
Council Deputy Leader Cllr Elaine Taylor said: “Even before the pandemic, 1 in 9 workers were already ‘insecure’ – for example, those on zero-hour contracts working as agency workers or in bogus self-employment.
“These workers did not have access to basic rights at work and could be dismissed at will.
“Insecure work is bad for working people and bad for the economy, which is why we need a New Deal to support rights for working people.”
“Oldham Labour supports the TUC campaign for a ‘New Deal for Working People’ and we ask the Council to do so as well.
“We will demand that the Prime Minister ends ‘fire and rehire’ and keeps his promise to Oldham residents to protect their employment terms and conditions.
“We will also ask him to ensure that all key workers get a pay rise at least equal to inflation.”
Deputy Cabinet Member Cllr Chris Goodwin added: “While the Prime Minister has called the practice of ‘fire and rehire’ “unacceptable”, he refuses to take action to outlaw it.
“More and more employers across all sectors use weak employment protections to force their staff to accept worse terms and conditions, meaning many have to work longer hours for lower pay.
“Despite austerity, as a Labour-led Council we pay our employees the Real Living Wage.
“Working people need decent wages – the Council is an accredited Living Wage Employer and we encourage other Oldham employers to join up.
“One in three of Oldham’s children live in poverty, and one way to end this is to ensure their parents and carers earn a decent wage in secure employment.
“We will promote progressive local employers who prioritise their employees’ standard of living and wellbeing and work with all employers to encourage best practice employment.
“Adopting the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter will improve employment standards across Oldham.”
Motion is item 9 on the Council agenda: https://committees.oldham.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=132&MId=8533&Ver=4