Amicus the Union

Amicus the Union

February 26, 2007 07:34 ET

Agency workers bring their fight for equal rights to Parliament

Calling notice Media briefing, Tuesday, 27th February, 10.30am Room W1, House of Commons Speakers include Paul Farrelly MP and Tony Dubbins, Amicus' Deputy General Secretary

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - Feb. 26, 2007) - Workers affected detrimentally by the use of agency and temporary workers will take their campaign for equal treatment to the House of Commons tomorrow ahead of a crucial vote on a bill that would outlaw poorer treatment for agency workers.

The bill has widespread trade union support and comes amid increasing concern by unions that agency working is being used to worsen workers terms and conditions and as a consequence is damaging social cohesion.

Workers from across the industrial spectrum including local government, the construction, automotive, manufacturing, telecommunications and food industries will tell MPs about the impact that the employment of temporary and agency workers is having in their workplaces. The Parliamentary event follows the publication of the DTI's recent consultation on protections for vulnerable workers which discounts equal treatment for agency workers leaving unions concerned that ministers are unwilling to act on the Warwick undertaking.

The meeting with MPs on Tuesday 27th February is to urge their support for a Private Members Bill being brought by Paul Farrelly MP that would help prevent the employment of agency workers on lesser terms and conditions than permanently employed staff. The bill is due to have its second reading in the House of Commons next Friday (2nd March) and needs the backing of 100 MPs to proceed.

Legislation to protect temporary and agency workers was promised to the trade unions by the Labour Party in the Warwick Agreement before the last election but has not been forthcoming either at national or European levels. The bill is being supported by Amicus, the T&G, GMB, Unison, CWU and UCATT as well as the TUC and other individual unions.

T&G General Secretary, Tony Woodley, Amicus' General Secretary, Derek Simpson and the CWU National Officer, Sally Bridge, say: "There are more than one million agency workers in the UK. These people are be paid less, have less holiday and sick pay entitlement than directly employed staff, even if doing the same job, in the same workplace and there is nothing in law that can protect them.

"It is often the most vulnerable people in society that are exploited such as migrant workers. As well as being an affront to a decent and progressive society the ability of unscrupulous employers to employ people on lesser terms is undermining hard won standards of employment creating a two-tier workforce and dividing communities.

"The Labour Party promised us legislation to deal with the problem before the last election. This is now an issue for every constituency and every workplace in the land - so the Labour government cannot continue to stall and block progress. Workers need their government to protect hard won working conditions and not throw them to the sharks who will undercut and abuse workers. But if the government will not listen to our members, we need Labour MPs to reiterate that this is something that needs and deserves immediate action."

Paul Farrelly MP, said: "Each individual worker's story demonstrates the impact that the use of agency workers has on people's lives, their families, workplaces and the economy which reinforces why we need this bill. Without protection in law, agency workers will be treated less favourably and be used to drive down wages.

"This issue affects every part of the country and for that reason I hope that the government and MPs will support the bill."

The ONS recently estimated that there are 1.8 million agency workers in the UK. The European Temporary Agency Directive has not made any progress since 2004. The UK government is understood to have been blocking its progress to date, however UK unions now feel that the EU route has been frustrated and domestic legislation is the only way to deliver workable legislation without delay.

- Ends -

Note to editors

Successful Private Members' Bills have included the Christmas Day (Trading) Bill, The Sunday Working (Scotland) Bill and the Gangmasters (Licensing) Bill.

Contact Information

  • Amicus press office
    Catherine Bithell
    020 7420 8909 or 07958 473 224
    T&G press office
    Pauline Doyle
    020 7611 2560 or 07976 832 861
    CWU press office
    John Colbert
    020 8971 7244 or 07714 504424