The last 12 months have been a year-long battle to defend workers’ rights, according to the leader of the STUC.
General Secretary Roz Foyer said during the Covid-19 crisis workers have faced attempts by bosses to cut pay and conditions and rip up their employment rights.
She criticised companies like British Gas, Tesco and British Airways over their treatment of workforces, but also the UK Government for “tacit encouragement” of attacks on workers’ rights.
Ms Foyer was appointed general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, which represents more than 540,000 trade union members, in March.
The first woman to hold the post in the body’s 124-year history, she said: “From the hospitality sector through heavy industry to aviation, it feels as if the last year has been one long battle to defend workers’ rights, whether it be safety at work, redundancy rights or attempts by bosses to impose fire and rehire. One such example is the workers in British Gas who’ve worked tirelessly during the pandemic to keep our homes heated, and have been told that they must sign a new contract which erodes their rights, or risk being fired and rehired. They are currently on strike to push back against this, and rightly so.
“No one should be fooled into thinking this is down to commercial considerations. Despite posting record profits, Tesco hit the headlines last week for trying to introduce fire and rehire at their Livingston distribution centre.”
Earlier this month UK Government officials were reported to be drawing up plans to overhaul labour laws to make businesses more competitive post-Brexit.
Ms Foyle added: “The government at Westminster is providing tacit encouragement for attacks on workers’ rights. A leaked document earlier this month showed they were considering removing protections on the 48-hour week and it was only concerted union pressure that forced them to abandon the plans.
“Increasingly workers are joining unions and in many cases they are winning. British Airways were forced to abandon fire and rehire plans by members of Unite.
“Young people have been at the sharp end, thousands of hospitality jobs have been protected by bar staff, waiters and chefs coming together to protect their rights and rejecting attempts to force them onto zero hours contracts.
“Regrettably, it’s where workers haven’t been union members that many thousands more jobs are at risk.”
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