Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Exploitation of agency workers

Tony Woodley offers a cogent and impassioned plea for equal treatment for agency workers in an article for the Guardian's CiF.

He argues:

'The Warwick Agreement between trade unions and ministers in 2004 promised domestic legislation for equal treatment of agency workers if the EU route failed to deliver, a pledge repeated by ministers in the Commons this year - as the government shamefully manoeuvered to face down this essential equality bill, despite the backing of 125 Labour MPs.'

There are more than one million agency workers in the UK, many paid less than the minimum wage, they have less holiday and sick pay entitlement than directly employed staff and there is nothing in UK law that can protect them. As well as being an affront to a decent and progressive politics, it is an affront to a decent society. The ability of unscrupulous employers to employ people on lesser terms is undermining hard won standards of employment as well as creating a two-tier workforce. Apart from the moral imperative, the ability of unscrupulous employers to create a working underclass will prevent the UK economy becoming the dynamic knowledge-based economy that Gordon Brown highlighted in his speech on Monday.

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