I was not shocked to learn that the Tories were reviewing trade union rights—it is what Tory Governments do every time they are elected. I was also not surprised that the so-called review of rights is to be undertaken by a body comprising several notorious anti-trade union employers. Nobody can trust this process and nobody can trust the assurances this evening from the Secretary of State, a man who has spent his life threatening trade unions and employment rights.
If any Member believes we have the best employment protections on the globe, as we have heard, I urge them to look at how my constituents who work at Heathrow airport are being treated by their employer, Heathrow Airport Ltd. I remind colleagues that when at the beginning of the pandemic many Members were desperately seeking to have their constituents repatriated, it was my constituents at Heathrow who worked throughout to keep the airport functioning to enable their return. The reward from their employer has been that all 4,000 workers have been fired and hit by forced rehire on vastly inferior contracts, with wages cut by 25%—£8,000—without any chance of protection in law, contrary to what the hon. Member for Newbury said, because the company has ridden a coach and horses through the existing legislation.
While Heathrow management argues in court for a third runway on the grounds that aviation will soon return to normal, elsewhere it is using the pandemic to impose cuts in wages and terms of employment. Unite the union offered a deal that would enable temporary measures to be put in place to save money until the airport returns to normal, but it was rejected by the company. Heathrow Airport Ltd has a record of borrowing to pay massive dividends and high director salaries but paying little in tax, and it is also now using traditional strike-breaking measures.
Industrial action is starting again at Heathrow. Unite members in the Uxbridge constituency have not had a word of support from their local MP, but let me send them my message of support and solidarity. If this Government want to reassure us about their employment credentials, they can confirm tonight that they will legislate to close the loopholes in the existing law with regard to fire and rehire; they can condemn Heathrow Airport Ltd for the treatment of its employees; and, yes, Ministers can join me in sending a message of solidarity to the strikers at Heathrow.