Express Viewpoint: Who is the mystery man in the photograph?

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Let’s put an end to fire and rehire schemes

Local people will have seen members of Unite the Union recently in both Windsor and Slough, engaging with the public in the campaign to end fire and rehire by encouraging a boycott of Weetabix products.

It is well known that nearly 10 per cent of Britain’s workforce has been threatened with fire and rehire.

Well-known names of companies involved in this practice include British Gas, British Airways, Weetabix, JDE, Sainsbury’s, Argos and just recently Clarks.

Even schools and higher education institutions are named.

An increasingly bullying management culture has become the norm and prior employment principles rendered defunct.

Slough Trades Council has supported the campaign driven by different trade unions including GMB, UCU, Unite and Community.

It also backed the campaign led by Barry Gardiner MP, who worked tirelessly to inform MPs that they should support his Bill.

He received cross-party support as MPs realised the shortcomings of fire and rehire.

This trend, combined with general public support, shows that the time was and is right for change.

It has also been reported in the local press that trade unions have been backed by Slough Borough Council, which voted unanimously in declaring their opposition to the practice and will investigate if their contractors are using fire and rehire in their operations.

Gardiner’s Second Reading of the Employment & Trade Union Rights (Dismissal & Re-engagement) Bill was debated on October 22 with several points raised, all of which would have been addressed at the committee stage had the Bill been passed.

It was therefore a massive disappointment that the Bill was blocked by the filibustering tactics of the Tories.

Fire and rehire, often likened to zero hours contracts, does little to inspire a workforce that needs security and a future.

With the ending of furlough, the removal of the Universal Credit £20 uplift, the increase in poverty levels, the forecast of increased homelessness, etc., it is surely obvious that job insecurity as a result of this practice will do little to level up the economy.

Slough Trades Council contacted local and neighbouring MPs as well as the Prime Minister, inviting them to meet and discuss fire and rehire. Only the local Slough MP Tan Dhesi and John McDonnell, MP for Hayes & Harlington, responded to declare their support for the campaign.

It is significant that Adam Afriyie MP did not respond, either to the Trades Council or to individual members contacting him as his constituents.

The disdain from individual Tories to engage with the reality experienced by workers is nothing short of contemptible.

In a recent report in the Observer, economist Will Hutton cited the following in his analysis of current government policy set against the context of Brexit and COVID with reference to ‘…the accompanying emergence of a stagflationary, low wage, low investment economy. A government that allows too many deaths of its own citizens and pursues policies that make them poorer will soon be held in contempt’.

Combine this with the recent exposure of sleaze and Christmas parties enjoyed when the mass of people heeded the rules. It seems the time has come.



Slough & District Trades Union Council

Who is mystery man in this photograph?

Do any of your readers recognise this young man? (see above)

The photograph was recently discovered in an antique desk purchased at an auction in Somerset several years ago.

The only clue is that it was taken at a studio in Slough High Street in 1945.

The uniform appears to be that of the Royal Artillery, possibly the 99RBY (Royal Bucks Yeomanry).

Enquiries with the Buckinghamshire Military Museum Trust have confirmed that the regiment served in Kohima, North East India, in 1944.

It would be nice to find a home for this young soldier.

Email with any information.



South Tyneside

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