Closing the loopholes for agency workers
An injustice diminished isn't an injustice ended! That's the key message behind CWU's campaign designed to expose and ultimately close clever legal loopholes that are being used by employers to deny a new generation of agency workers hard won rights to equal treatment.
**Latest news**: New impetus to
agency battle, 16th May 2013
The importance of the CWU's 'Closing the Loopholes' campaign to end the "immoral and unethical" abuse of a new generation of agency workers was dramatically reaffirmed at CWU Annual Conference in Bournemouth in April.
Agency Day of Action on January 16 2013 was a
resounding success. Events took place across the country with
campaigners and members turning out in below freezing temperatures
to support the fight for justice for agency workers. For the full
report read: Agency
workers shocked at equal pay snub and check out all the photos
This new campaign is born out of the success of the CWU's long-running 'Euro-trashed' campaign, seeking equal treatment for agency workers. This culminated in the implementation of the EU's Temporary Agency Workers Directive in UK law in 2011.
It hasn't taken long for unscrupulous employers to find new ways to reinvent pay inequality. Many companies are now exploiting loopholes in the UK's new Agency Regulations by drawing up contracts that exclude a new generation of agency workers from the right to equal treatment in terms of pay to that of directly employed staff undertaking comparable roles.
One such way is through the introduction of 'Pay Between Assignment' contracts which effectively exempt agency workers from securing equal treatment by guaranteeing (not very much) pay when between work placements. This is allowed to be as little as one hour at minimum wage - but is set at a minimum of four hours' pay in Manpower contracts - and means workers never trigger qualification for equal treatment.
The Pay Between Assignment (PBA) contracts are currently
exploited by BT as an employer and Manpower as a hirer in BT call
centres. Since April 2011 most new joiners have been required to
sign such contracts which exempt them from the right to pay equal
to that of directly employed staff undertaking comparable roles.
Fiercely contested by the CWU from the outset, these contracts
now cover a fast growing minority of agency employees on the BT
contract. Unless checked, over time this may result in the majority
of agency employees losing out on the hard-won rights to equal pay
with those benefitting at the moment becoming an ever-shrinking
Such an outcome, assistant secretary Sally Bridge insists, is something the CWU can never accept. "From the very outset of the 'Euro-trashed' campaign back in 2006 our aim has always been to secure employment fairness for all agency workers - not simply for a particular group which will inevitably get smaller over time.
"We did not come this far down the line only to fall at the last hurdle."
Listen to the
podcast of Sally Bridge talking to Simon Sapper about the
importance of the campaign and how the exploitation of agency
workers impacts on young people, in particular.
CWU's National Agency Campaign team, led by national
officer, Sally Bridge and members of the executive, will front this
- Secure amendments to the UK Agency Regulations which close current loopholes that currently enable hirers and employment agencies to exploit agency workers.
- Raise the profile of agency issues amongst the CWU membership and to encourage our agency members to become active in the campaign.
- Raise awareness at a political level and to secure support in order that this issue is brought back on to the political agenda.
- Engage and work with the TUC and UNI to make this a wider trade union issue.
- Give consideration to challenging the UK Agency Regulations
within the European Commission.
The involvement of branches will be integral to the success of this campaign and more importantly the participation of agency members that are actually affected by these contracts.
For more information please contact Sally Bridge on 0208 971 7311 or email email@example.com.