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Marshalls denies 'fire and rehire' strategy

9 Dec 21 Building products supplier Marshalls has hit back after being branded “a Scrooge employer” by union leaders.

Marshalls is a leading producer of block paving and landscaping products
Marshalls is a leading producer of block paving and landscaping products

According to the Unite union, Marshalls is threatening to fire and rehire more than 1,500 workers this Christmas to get them onto new contracts.

The union says that the company has already issued the redundancy notices without even attempting to enter into negotiations.

Marshalls says that it has merely entered into a consultation programme with staff to standardise terms and conditions of employment. It says that most employees are on board with the plan. Firing and rehiring would be a last resort, it said.

Marshalls is a leading producer of block paving and landscaping products, turning over £470m last year. It has manufacturing plants, quarries and distribution sites across the UK.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Marshalls' threat to dismiss its entire workforce this Christmas is simply appalling. Unite will not allow the jobs, pay and conditions of our members to be trampled on. If Marshalls does not rescind this abhorrent ‘fire and rehire’ strategy make no mistake, the union will fight back. We’ll leave no stone unturned in ensuring our members are treated fairly and decently.”

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Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain added: “This entirely unnecessary action has left our members fearing for their futures in the run-up to Christmas. Refusing to even enter into negotiations with Unite before proposing to fire and rehire its workforce, to resolve concerns about changes to shift patterns demonstrates that Marshalls is treating its workers with absolute contempt.

“The company needs to step back from the brink and restore its good name by entering into genuine negotiations, removing the threat of fire and rehire and resolving any issues it has through the existing disputes mechanism.”

A Marshalls spokesperson responded: “We have entered into a consultation programme to standardise terms and conditions of employment. This is to create equity and fairness for all colleague across Marshalls. We completely refute the information which Unite has chosen to share: it is not accurate.  The whole of Marshalls Group is within scope of this programme. We have shared change proposals which, for the vast majority of our colleagues (93%), will mean no change and, in many cases, even an uplift in their current terms and conditions of employment. We have worked closely with our partner union(s) and our Employee Voice Group on this project.

“We have had very constructive dialogue with colleagues through team meetings and also individual consultations. These consultations are still in progress. Over half of our colleagues have already accepted the new terms and conditions and given their consent to the changes.

“It is highly unlikely that we may need to terminate employment and re-hire on new terms. This would only happen after exhausting three levels of individual consultation and mediation through ACAS. It is completely inaccurate to suggest that we have served notices of redundancy on any employee as a result of this exercise. We also want to put on record our disappointment in the way that Unite have chosen to portray Marshalls in the media. We have a strong track record of working well with our employees and enhancing the employment conditions of all colleagues.”

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