UK: Protect agency workers by adopting the EU directive

Director of policy and campaigns for British Trade Union Congress Wales, Derek Walker, argues that temporary workers need greater legal protection. Recently MPs voted overwhelmingly to support fairer protection against the exploitation and poor treatment of agency workers – sending the Government a clear message to abandon its long-standing opposition to the EU Temporary Workers Directive.The directive has failed to make progress since 2002 and the UK has led a blocking minority, but, as in the Commons, there are signs that support for the UK position is diminishing.

Around 150 MPs, including just over a quarter of Welsh MPs and former Secretary of State for Wales and the Department for Work and Pension, Peter Hain, stayed in the Commons on a Friday to support the Second Reading of Andrew Miller’s Temporary and Agency Workers Bill.

For trade unions the issues are clear. Unions are not opposed to agency working. David Rosser of the CBI misses the point.

Matching employers with short- term needs with employees with short-term availability or who genuinely prefer working this way, as some do, is not just a perfectly respectable business, but good for the wider economy.

But what is not acceptable is unscrupulous employers exploiting vulnerable agency workers or using agency workers to undermine the terms, conditions and securities of existing permanent workforces.

People do not want to go to work to be told that their jobs are to be replaced by agency workers on lower pay, no security, no training, no sick pay, minimum holidays and no pension.

And yet this is happening in every part of the Welsh economy.

Equally, agency workers across Wales frequently experience worse terms and conditions than permanently-employed staff and the law as it stands leaves temps open to exploitation.

Agency workers also find themselves excluded from employer- provided pension schemes, sick pay and maternity pay entitlements. This can be despite having worked as a temp in the same organisation for several months or, in some cases, years.

Research published by the TUC has exposed the real vulnerability of many agency workers.

Almost half of agency staff would rather have a permanent job.

A quarter of agency staff are in assignments of more than a year (and are not just filling a temporary need) – yet agency staff in post for more than a year do not gain the enhanced employment rights other workers would enjoy after 12 months in a job, as they normally do not have the legal rights of an employee.

Agency workers have no security of tenure and can be dismissed at any time, and agency staff are paid 80p for every pound paid to permanent staff doing a similar level of job, according to a TUC analysis of official statistics.

Objectors make the usual claims that the proposed measures will cost jobs – but we have been here before with the minimum wage, and no one now is claiming that the minimum wage has cost jobs.

In fact, since the minimum wage was introduced, more than 2,250,000 extra jobs have been created.

The same false claims were made when part-time workers were given protection; again, these extra rights did not cost jobs in the UK.

As outlined above, unions are part of a growing community supporting two routes for better agency worker rights:

In Europe – the draft EU Temporary Agency Worker Directive;

In the UK – Andrew Miller’s Private Member’s Bill in Westminster.

In December the Wales TUC joined with counterparts in England, Scotland and Ireland to call for the Government to back the directive.

In February MPs voiced their concerns. The Government has proposed a commission to look at the issue, but what agency workers need is action, not more talk. (IcWales)

Advertisements

0 Responses to “UK: Protect agency workers by adopting the EU directive”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 79 other followers

RSS ILO news

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Archives

Catalogue of publications on International Labour Standards


%d bloggers like this: