Unite the Union

Unite the Union

February 22, 2008 10:29 ET

Commons Vote Means Government Must Now Deliver Agency Worker Legislation

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Feb. 22, 2008) -

Attention: Newsdesks, Political, Industrial, Business and Social Affairs Correspondents

Overwhelming support by Labour MPs for a private members bill that could give agency workers the same employment rights as directly employed staff means the government must now act to legislate say trade unions.

147 MPs voted in support of the bill, brought by Andrew Miller MP, proceeding to committee stage. Only eleven MPs voted against the bill.

The trade unions backing the bill say there is now clear and compelling need for the government to act and are urging the government to lend its backing to the Private Members Bill to allow it to become legislation.

Tony Dubbins, Chair of the Trade Union and Labour Party Labour Liaison Organisation, said: "The Parliamentary Labour Party has spoken and its' message is loud and clear. We must have primary legislation to protect the growing numbers of agency workers - nothing less will do.

"The size of this rebellion is also a clear demonstration to government that the idea of a Commission on agency working is too little and too late. The need for domestic legislation is already proven and we and the Labour backbenchers will not tolerate any other tactics designed to scupper it."

Andrew Miller, MP, who presented the bill to the House today for its second reading, said: "The backing of this bill by Labour MPs has been emphatic and has exceeded even our high expectations. I want to thank every one of them for their support so far and for remaining in Westminster today.

"We hope now that the government will respond by giving its backing to the bill."

Ian McCartney, former Chair of the Labour Party and the Parliamentary Party spoke in favour of the bill during today's debate. Ian, who negotiated the Warwick agreement, the accord agreed between the trade unions and the Labour Party before the last election, said that domestic legislation had been agreed by the Party and the Private Member's Bill had come about because the government had not delivered on its party's promise.

The promise of an agency bill either in Europe or in the UK has been in existence since 2000. An EU Directive was first in discussion in 2000 and the Labour Party manifesto in 2005 promised to act. The government failed to support another Private Members Bill brought by Paul Farrelly in 2007 and actively blocked another EU Directive in December 2007.

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    Catherine Bithell
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