Open letter slams “untrue” claim about agency rights

CWU has today (Friday) written to Tom Hadley, Director of Policy & Professional Services at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), asking him to acknowledge an inaccurate claim in their publicity work on agency rights.

REC issued a media statement responding to the CWU's Agency Action Day events on Wednesday January 16 claiming that 'Pay Between Assignment' (PBA) contracts had been "agreed after significant consultation by the government with recruiters, employers and unions."

Sally Bridge
"It is not correct to state that unions have agreed this part of the legislation," says assistant secretary Sally Bridge. In an open letter to Mr. Hadley she explains: "During the 2008 consultation the TUC and affiliates made it very clear throughout the process that the draft Agency Regulations failed to provide protection and that without robust anti-avoidance measures PBA contracts would be used by hirers and employment agencies to avoid equal treatment terms being applied on pay."

A joint declaration was agreed by the government, business group CBI, and trade union organisation the TUC in 2008 on new Agency Regulations. The pay between assignment model was specifically mentioned, however: "this was in the context of appropriate anti-avoidance measures being put in place to provide adequate protection for agency workers," Sally explains.

Agency loopholes
The use of PBA contracts exploded following the implementation of the Agency Regulations - as feared by CWU and other unions -denying thousands of agency staff equal pay they should have been entitled to. In response, the CWU's campaign "Closing the Loopholes" was launched to fight for equal pay and justice for agency workers with the key objective to do away with PBA contracts. Taking the campaign to call centres around the country, the union's hugely successful Agency Action Day won even more support from agency workers, many of whom had no idea the rights they were signing away with PBA contracts and the hundreds of pounds in wages they were losing each month as a result.

Read how agency workers feel about the situation: Agency workers speak up or watch the video:

"If you look at the pay difference between what an agency worker on a PBA contract and an agency worker on a zero hours contract earns for doing the same job you can see for yourself how PBA contracts are exploitative. It's not fair, it's not right and it needs to stop," said Sally.

Read Sally's open letter in full.

Pay differences

The comparisons below are between an agency worker on a PBA contract and an agency worker on a zero hours contract who has achieved equal treatment as per the 2011 agency regulations. They are all based on call centre workers.

Dundee: £6.25/h vs £8.37/h which for 37.5 hour week is £320 difference per month
Gosforth: £6.75/h vs £8.35/h which for 37.5 hour week is £240 a month worse off
Lincoln: £7.50/h vs £11.38/h which for 37.5 hour week is £584 a month worse off
Nottingham: £6.80/h vs £9.85/h which for 37.5 hour week is £456 a month worse off
Warrington: £7.50/h vs £8.53/h which for a 36 hour week is £150 a month worse off

More than 1,000 agency workers working for Manpower/BT are on PBA contracts. Industry bodies say that between 17 per cent and 30 per cent of all agency workers are now affected by these contracts (Eversheds 2012, REC 2012).

For more information on the campaign visit: Closing the Loopholes or read:

Agency workers shocked at equal pay snub, 21 January 2013
Agency Action Day: workers cheated on pay, 15 January 2013

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