GMB: Winning for Synergy LMS workers

01 Jul 2021
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Fire & re-hire scrapped at Derby plant: how employment practice dubbed ‘Victorian’ has been beaten by Derby workers.

As Derby celebrates the 188th anniversary of the Silk Milk Lockout this summer, an event which wrote a place for Derby in the history of workers’ rights in Britain, local workers at a Derby linen plant are celebrating a historic win against ‘fire & re-hire’.

GMB trade union have welcomed the news that Synergy LMS senior management have scrapped ‘fire & re-hire' threats as well as removing un-popular changes to terms and conditions at the company.

The Derby based company, which is a major provider to the NHS and the second largest provider of commercial linen, had sparked alarm by threatening the move, which has been widely condemned as a deeply unfair employment practice.

Fire & rehire sees workers contracts terminated, only to be re-employed with significantly worse terms and conditions. It is widely held up as an example of a damaging and exploitative employment practice in the 21st century.

GMB Midland & East Coast’s campaign against fire & re-hire at the company had seen support from political heavyweights including Labour’s Deputy Leader Angela Rayner MP and Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth MP.

Over 300 local Derby people had also backed the GMB’s open letter to Synergy LMS and added their names to the union’s calls to scrap fire & re-hire at the company.

GMB will take up the offer to work positively in partnership with Synergy to help build a model workplace for employee's and grow this business to be the NHS supply chain of choice for all NHS contracts, we look forward to a prosperous future of inclusion and equality for all.  

Tina Wright, GMB Rep working at Synergy LMS, said:

“On behalf of all GMB members at Synergy LMS Derby, I welcome this decision. All the workers at the plant want what’s best for the company and have given their all to getting through these tough times during the Pandemic.

As GMB members, we have worked together throughout this dispute and haven’t lost sight of what was important to workers at Synergy LMS”.

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said:

“I am delighted Synergy LMS have taken this important decision. Scrapping fire & re-hire and committing to work with GMB trade union shows the company has listened to the concerns raised so robustly by GMB members and workers at the plant. Other companies, especially in the NHS supply chain, should take note.

I’ve been supporting these workers in their dispute since day one and it has been inspiring. They have built their union and campaigned with passion throughout.

Fire & re-hire has no place in 21st century industrial relations, especially not in the supply chain of our precious National Health Service. I would like to extend my personal congratulations to the workers at Synergy LMS on their historic win.

Martin Allen, GMB Midland & East Coast Regional Secretary, said:

“Fire & re-hire is plain wrong.  I am delighted Synergy LMS top brass have listened to our calls to remove the threat of fire & re-hire and scrap these unfair changes to our members terms & conditions.

As a major provider to our treasured National Health Service, it is right that we hold companies like Synergy LMS to account when they treat their workforce without the dignity and respect they’ve earned.

GMB is a fighting union that always campaigns for it’s members. If you’re not already a member, join today and get the GMB on your side where you work

Mick Coppin, GMB Midland & East Coast Regional Organiser, said:

“Synergy LMS have made the right decision. Our members at Synergy LMS felt completely let down by senior management and their support for action against fire & re-hire was overwhelming.

Throughout this process we have had a clear head and a commitment to get the best deal for GMB members. Fire & re-hire is wrong, and the decision not to go ahead with it, as well as scrapping unpopular changes to terms and conditions will go a long way in building trust between the workers and company management”.


For further details and comment contact Finbar Bowie, GMB Midland & East Coast Region, Political Officer on 07850 857553.

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