News

Council facing strike action denies there was ‘intention’ to ‘fire and rehire’

09 Jun 2021 3 minutes Read
Barry Council Office and Library, Kings Square, Barry. By Cath Mudford

A council facing strike action has categorically denied there was every any ‘intention’ to “fire and rehire” staff.

GMB Union has accused Barry Town Council of serving a ‘fire and rehire’ notice to six cemetery workers, which imposes a unilateral change to terms and conditions of employment, without their consent.

According to the union, the practice is “unscrupulous, unpopular and unwarranted”.

The local authority has responded by saying that it is “simply attempting to make a minor variation” to terms and condition and says here won’t be a reduction in hours or pay. It wants to include 2-3 later shifts per month between April and September

It added that it was “responding to public demand” to “enable working families to attend loved ones’ graves”.

Fire and rehire is a controversial practice that sees an employer forcing an employee to accept changes to their contract or be fired and rehired on worse terms and conditions.

The union says it had been consultation with ACAS and the Barry Town Council clerk Emily Forbes on proposed changes to the terms and conditions of employment for Merthyr Dyfan Cemetery workers.

However, it says Barry Town Council has rejected all the union’s representations and withdrew from talks whilst issuing notice to cemetery workers of a unilateral change to terms and conditions of employment.

‘Unscrupulous’  

Nicola Savage, GMB Regional Organiser said: “This practice is unscrupulous, unpopular and unwarranted.

“Barry Town Council think they can run roughshod over its staff; they can’t. Members should have no fear that we will stand up and protect them.

“The damage is done, members from across the council feel betrayed and we’re balloting our members now on whether to take strike action.

“The council should stop digging a hole and come back to the table immediately, or this could escalate into strike action.”

A spokesperson for Barry Town Council said: “Barry Town Council categorically denies that there was ever any intention to ‘fire and rehire’.

“The Council is simply attempting to make a minor variation to Cemetery workers’ Terms and Conditions with no reduction in hours, pay, nor continuity of service. The minor variation was to include 2-3 later shifts per month between April and September.

“The Council was responding to public demand following a trial period of later Cemetery gates closure (until 7pm, Monday to Friday), to enable working families to attend loved ones’ graves in lighter summer months.

“First trialled in summer 2018 and summer 2019, and continued since, this is a service which families are truly grateful for, as this allows them the flexibility of visiting times.

“Extensive consultation has taken place since March 2020 including ACAS support to try to reach a formal shared way forward via the Union.

“The Union has refused to consider any variation despite being offered a financial incentive to accept the change.

“The change effectively means that six staff will be required to work fourteen 11-7pm shifts per year in order to provide this valuable service to the public which, the Council believes is a fair and reasonable request.”

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