England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

Review: Screening of ‘Stop Fire and Rehire: The Story of Barry Gardiner MP Private Members Bill’

text says "stop fire and rehire" "Every worker affected is a mum, dad, son or daughter"

On Thursday 31 March, I attended an event in Rusholme hosted by Gorton Labour Party. It was a screening (I believe the first screening) of a documentary film based on Barry Gardiner MP’s Private Member’s Bill (PMB) to ‘End Fire and Rehire’. In the film, Gardiner explained how to be picked for a PMB is like ‘winning a tombola’. That being said, ending the vicious practice of Fire and Rehire is a very good cause to champion in parliament and around the country.

It’s clear to see that Gardiner has worked hard to build a strong campaign to support his Bill. However, an issue with the film is that it was purely about supporting a piece of legislation, and nothing else. Gardiner started the evening by stating how P&O bosses had flagrantly admitted breaking the law when they sacked their workers. So what’s stopping this legislation being ignored by bosses? The film also focused on how, despite some Tory MPs supporting ‘elements of the Bill’ (including asking for assurances that Fire and Rehire could be used in the ‘last resort’s), the Tory Party tried anything to smash the Bill.

Workers’ struggles?

Despite interviews with some individual workers who had been affected by Fire & Rehire, one thing the film seemed to ignore at all costs was the tremendous workers’ struggles we have seen in the fight back against Fire & Rehire. While Gardiner attended Queens Road Bus Depot in North Manchester, he didn’t mention once the heroic 85-day strike that those workers engaged in to defeat the bosses at Go NorthWest (find info below about the SA pamphlet we wrote about the strike). He also recently attended and spoke at a rally outside of the council house in Coventry, a Labour-run council which didn’t rule out using Fire and Rehire against the striking HGV drivers in Coventry. Yet, none of this was mentioned. 

Gardiner talked up the unions throughout the film, but nothing about strikes. Nothing. The focus of the film was how ‘well treated’ workers perform better and so that’s better for the companies and the economy. It made me wonder exactly who this film had been made for. It had little by way direction for workers who face Fire & Rehire, it had lots on benefits for companies on ending the practice.

Indeed it was clear that the evening had not been built amongst workers at all. There were two workers invited to speak at the end and a Unite regional political officer. But why not pack the room with the workers who had actually been out on strike against Fire and Rehire?

The Labour Party

Despite ending Fire & Rehire being a potentially important piece of legislation, it’s not worth the paper it is written on without workers’ struggle. This, for me, just again highlights the out of touch nature of the majority of parliamentary Labour politicians. This was massively highlighted when Gardiner joked that the film contained a mistake because Christian Wakeford MP was described  as Tory, but he has since crossed the floor and been welcomed with open arms by Labour. He then pointed out that Wakeford was sat at the back of the room, he was actually there

A timely reminder of the nature of the Labour Party and its direction. The need for a new mass left party that is rooted in the struggles of working class people, such as those fighting fire and rehire is needed now more than ever! The Labour Party is not that!

Socialist Alternative pamphlet: Fighting fire and rehire

Our recent pamphlet about how Manchester bus drivers defeated Fire and Rehire. Important lessons for everyone wanting to defeat this disgusting tactic from the bosses.

Contact us about getting a copy, £3 each


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