Image ID 2ABYEXD School children during class 27112019 CREDIT PA Images,Alamy Stock Photo.jpg
In October, Labour MP Barry Gardiner put forward a private member's bill to curb businesses' ability to fire and rehire, but the Government blocked it (Picture: PA/ Alamy Stock Photo).
Cyprus

MOD accused of 'threatening teachers of service children with fire and rehire'

Image ID 2ABYEXD School children during class 27112019 CREDIT PA Images,Alamy Stock Photo.jpg
In October, Labour MP Barry Gardiner put forward a private member's bill to curb businesses' ability to fire and rehire, but the Government blocked it (Picture: PA/ Alamy Stock Photo).

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is threatening the teachers of service children in Cyprus with "fire and rehire", a Labour MP has claimed.

During business questions in the House of Commons, Barry Gardiner called for the Government to make an urgent statement on why the MOD is joining companies like P&O Ferries in "using such unfair employment practices".

The MP for Brent North claimed the MOD is threatening to sack the teachers of service children in Cyprus "unless they sign new contracts that abolish their pension rights and lower their terms and conditions".

Commons Leader Mark Spencer said he would be surprised if the MOD is "breaking the law" in the same way P&O Ferries did when it sacked nearly 800 UK resident seafarers in March and immediately replaced them with agency crew.

In October, Mr Gardiner put forward a private member's bill to curb businesses' ability to fire and rehire, but the Government blocked it.

The Government announced a new statutory code on the practice of fire and rehire after the P&O Ferries scandal.

This was to clamp down on controversial tactics used by employers who fail to engage in meaningful consultations with employees.

Mr Gardiner said: "The children of our service personnel in Cyprus are being taught by supply teachers brought out under employment contracts with the Ministry of Defence.

"The MOD is now threatening to sack these teachers unless they sign new contracts that abolish their pension rights and lower their terms and conditions."

"Given that the Government professes to be against the practice of fire and rehire, can we have an urgent statement as to why the MOD is joining companies like P&O [Ferries] in using such unfair employment practices, and an assessment of the impact the dispute with teachers is likely to have upon the Armed Forces children’s education?"

Mr Spencer replied: "P&O [Ferries] actually broke the law. I would be very surprised if the department for defence is breaking the law."

He said he would pose the question to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

MOD response

In response to the claims, an MOD spokesperson said: "We value the contribution of all our staff, including the supply teachers of service children.

"We have been reviewing the way we employ supply teachers.

"Any changes will be compliant with UK employment legislation and where we employ locally engaged staff, with the treaties agreed with host nations."