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The IR Guru NEWS Bulletin

February 18, 2021

Photo Credit: Tony Baggett –

Usdaw victory over Tesco ‘fire and rehire’ policy

UK retail trade union Usdaw has succeeded in a legal bid stopping Tesco from firing and rehiring workers at one of its distribution centres in Livingston, Scotland. 

An interdict in the Court of Session in Edinburgh prevents the retailer from withdrawing entitlement to retained pay and/or terminating a contract in order to re-hire a worker on new terms which do not include retained pay. 

The move would have seen affected staff suffer huge pay cuts – between £4,000 and £19,000 a year. 

Although the judgment applies to the Livingston site only, Usdaw is fighting fire and rehire proposals workers face at other sites including in Avonmouth.

Joanne McGuinness, Usdaw National Officer said: “The court delivered a temporary prohibition and we are now calling on the company to honour the judgment and withdraw its plans at all sites. We stand ready to seek a permanent interdict for Livingston and a High Court injunction for the other sites to defend this unfair pay cut for hundreds of key workers.”


Innovative collecting bargaining structure agreed for North Sea workers

A groundbreaking agreement improving pay and conditions for thousands of UK North Sea oil workers has been struck by three unions, Unite, RMT and GMB.

The new Energy Services Agreement establishes a framework for collective bargaining in the offshore energy sector, the first of its kind for the industry. Already, 13 employers have confirmed they will sign up to the deal.

In a joint statement, the unions said: “The collaborative working of the trade unions and industry is an illustration of what is required to deliver a just and green recovery for workers and the UK energy supply chain.” 



Postal workers in Turkey hold march against forced relocations

Protests have been taking place in Turkey against anti-union practices at the country’s national postal company, Turkish Post.

Affiliate organisations of UNI Global Union led the protest in Ankara after it emerged that activists at the union HABER-SEN are being forced to relocate hundreds of miles away from their original job and at short notice.

Around 200 protestors travelled from all over the country to take part in a march and rally in early February. 

“It’s unacceptable that amidst a global pandemic, Turkish Post is forcibly transferring trade union activists just for exercising their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining,” said Dimitris Theodorakis, acting Head of UNI Post and Logistics. “We demand that Turkish Post immediately reinstate… relocated workers to their original positions.”  

HABER-SEN is currently in dialogue with Turkish Post over the issue.



Legal ruling in Spain curbs exploitation of temporary work contracts

The Spanish Supreme Court has put an end to widespread abuse of temporary contracts by reversing previous case law and ruling against the use of consecutive fixed term contracts and other precarious employment relationships. 

It’s a move that’s been long demanded by Spanish unions such as UGT and CC.OO, also affiliates of the global union IUF.

Spain leads the EU ranking for use of temporary workers with 26.8% in 2019, almost double the EU average of 13.8%, according to the IUF.

Mari Cruz Vicente of the trade union CC.OO said the Spanish Supreme Court judgment is “great news that should help to put a stop to temporary and irregular work contracts.”


Unions wins recognition and reinstatement of workers in India garment factory

A union in India has signed an agreement with H&M supplier Gokaldas Exports that recognises the union and also reinstates the jobs of 1,257 workers who were fired last June.

The Garment and Textile Workers’ Union (GATWU) has been campaigning since last May when Gokaldas Exports, based in Karnataka, engaged in union busting activity at one of its factories that produces clothing for European brands.

According to IndustriALL Global union, managers removed machinery from the site before shutting it down and illegally firing all 1,257 workers, mostly women. 

While unions have been campaigning to raise awareness of events, H&M, which signed up to a global framework agreement that guarantees freedom of association in its supply chains, also threatened to stop ordering from Gokaldas if the company failed to respect the right to collective action.  

An agreement between Gokaldas, IndustriALL and the New Trade Union Initiative of India, signed on February 1, has offered the fired workers employment at other factories and recognises GATWU as the sole bargaining agent for three years in any factory with more than 20 per cent membership.

IndustriALL General Secretary Valter Sanches said the deal was a “tremendous victory for GATWU against almost impossible odds”.  He added it also showed the importance of its global framework agreements.


Australian workers forced to use up pension to support themselves through Covid, says union body

The Australian government has been accused by unions of “creating a legacy of poverty” after new data revealed that more than 3.4 million workers stripped their pension savings to help them through the pandemic.

Figures released by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority showed that workers withdrew more than $36 billion from their retirement savings. More than 700,000 workers were forced to completely empty their superannuation accounts, with 80% being below the age of 35.

Workers in aviation, childcare and the university sector have been excluded entirely from government support provided through its JobKeeper scheme, according to the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). Hospitality workers were also hit hard since so many are casual workers and did not qualify for help. 

“This government has created a legacy of poverty by implementing a programme designed to shift the burden of responding to this crisis from government to individual”, said ACTU Assistant Secretary Scott Connolly. “A 30-year-old emptying their account by withdrawing $20,000 will be nearly $80,000 worse off in retirement.”

ACTU is calling on the government to re-commit to an increase of 12% for the superannuation guarantee so workers can rebuild their retirement funds.


Strike action at Quorn in the UK cancelled as pay deal is accepted

Strike action by UK factory workers at food producer Quorn has been called off as union members have accepted what they say is an “excellent” pay offer.

The deal, negotiated by the union Unite, applies to more than 60 production workers at the meat-free paste production factory in Teesside.

The pay package includes a 2% pay rise backdated to June 2020 and an increase of retail price index (RPI) plus 1% from June 2021 to May 2022. Sick pay has also been increased from 13 weeks to 26 weeks for sick pay and staff retirement bonuses will also rise. 

Unite Regional Officer Fazia Hussain-Brown said: “This excellent deal is testament to the hard work of Unite’s workplace representatives and the company. We look forward to working productively with the company as it goes from strength to strength in the future.”

Strikes had been planned for dates in February.


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