Monday, July 10, 2023

UNISON National Labour Link 23: Motion 12. Stop Bogus self-employment companies exploiting workers

My speech to Forum. "Chair, Forum, John Gray from Greater London Region, moving our regional motion on stopping bogus self-employment companies exploiting workers
Forum, the recent BBC TV documentaries referenced in the motion have exposed the scandal of many thousands of worker being exploited by unscrupulous organisations and employers.
People respond to direct sales adverts apparently promising good pay and even salaries but it turns out that these are in reality, commission only jobs, often with a culture of bullying and pressured working, forcing staff to work 60/70 hours plus per week. Long hours and commission only means many are cheated from even receiving the national minimum wage, as well as associated benefits and pension contributions. Of course with such bogus employment, the government is also cheated of much needed tax and national insurance contributions.
I will admit, many moons ago I tried out, like no doubt others here today, direct sales jobs, it was even then a pretty miserable existence and I soon began to look for other work. 

However, somewhat naively, I had thought that with the advent of the national minimum wage and recent trade union victories in employment courts on uber etc bogus self-employment, that such exploitation had been largely done away with. However, those BBC programmes show that such practices are alive and kicking.
What was particularly shocking to me as a community service group NEC member and housing worker, that so called respectable registered charities have outsourced their sales and fund raising services to such bogus employment companies, so are making money out of exploitation.
By coincidence, 2 weeks ago I was working from home in East London when the doorbell rang and I went down to the door and to my surprise, there was a young man outside our door holding a large tray of household cleaning products. He politely showed me an identification card and explained he and his girlfriend were living in a homeless hostel run by a well-known homeless charity and he said that he needed to sell a number of products to meet a target in order for them to stay in the hostel for another week. If they did not meet this target they would have to leave. I brought a brush which we did not need from him for tenner.
Forum, I am trying to find out more about this call but if this is true that a charity is effectively forcing a young homeless couple to go door to door selling cheap household goods to keep a roof over head or be thrown out – this is not just exploitation, it is modern day slavery and that charity should be investigated by the Charities commission and if proven, it and any others that carry out such practices should be closed down.
Forum, this motion calls on our national labour link committee to campaign to change employment law to ban “commission only” employment and for every worker to receive a living wage. Also an investigation into such practices but also Forum, also most importantly, penalise such organisations and companies that make money from such exploitation.
Forum please support this motion. I move".

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