Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A step forward for agency workers

By co-incidence last night I was having a bit of a rant about an attempt to promote agency working amongst social housing workers. Today, it was announced that a deal with the TUC, CBI and government has been made over “fairness” for agency workers! I think that this is a result for the TUC and affiliated Labour Party trade unions.

It’s very good news, not brilliant (no parity over pensions and sick pay) however, this should improve the terms and conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers. Locally in the East End of London I am aware of a number of long term agency workers who will be lifted out of minimum wage rates. UNISON Labour Link used this information to lobby the government.

It should also encourage permanent contracts for vulnerable workers since it will make increase agency fees.

The TUC and Dave Prentis think it is a move in the right direction. The CBI have obviously been pushed into the deal calling it the “least worse option” while the Federation of Small businesses call it “Disastrous”. No surprise there.

I do not see this measure surviving any future Tory government. Some “clear red water” to build upon for the General Election?


Anonymous said...

Hi john. lets hope the agency worker's see this as a result and then join a union hopefully unison, the door is opening at last but just a bit that's why they must join.

John Gray said...

Hi Paul
Very true – give me a ring tomorrow, I’ve been asked to do something on this!

Charlie Marks said...

"Clear red water"... It's a start. If the law is passed it will have taken 6 years for the New Labour clique to have fulfilled a promise. I suppose this means we'll get a vote on the EU treaty in 2011!

Sean said...

It's a start to solving the problem:It may make some of the agnecies at the top end of the marker suffer to. You know the ones who rip off employers with ridiciculous fees to provide for specialist roles like Social Worker,Planner etc but pay the workers less than if they were directly employed. The devil however is in the legislative detail, I would have liked there to be a maximum period after which they were automatically deemed directly employed having recently had to defend an agency worker of three years standing who had jsut been dumped by the "end user" (in other words the local authority) After Legal looked at the isue and turned it down it became clear just how few rights our members in such circumtances have.

John Gray said...

Hi Charlie
Better late than never (under Tories) I suppose. Not sure I get your point about EU treaty?

John Gray said...

Hi Sean
Yes, you are right – it’s a start and the devil will be in the detail. I think there is a reasonable chance that the EU will force further changes. Once this is in we need to start campaigning and lobbying employers about the extra cost (17.5% VAT on the entire cost which normally cannot be claimed back). This should make “in-house” employment far more competitive.

I’ve known people employed by agencies but placed with an employer for 7 years! This needs to change. The "fixed term contract" parity a few years ago didn’t end the world as we know it. Again, this is something I hope the EU may prove to be a way forward.

Charlie Marks said...

The vote on the EU treaty was promised in 2005, so if a New Labour promise take 6 years to be fulfilled - 2011.

John Gray said...

Hi Charlie
I think actually that the promise to vote was on the proposed EU constitution but I take your point.

Charlie Marks said...

EU constitutional treaty = EU reform treaty... as most European leaders readily admit.

But I'm glad you take my point ;-)