Close The Gap!

All our reps are being urged to give their full support to a major national campaign being launched this autumn by the union’s T&FS department aimed at winning justice for agency workers.

The initiative has emerged from the grassroots of the union, where anger and frustration has increased at the low levels of pay among staff employed by the Manpower agency on BT work.

A hard-hitting branch motion calling for the union to “mount a campaign to eradicate the low pay rates of our Manpower employees on the BT contract to ensure, at a very minimum, that they are paid the Real Living Wage,” was submitted to Annual Conference this year and won unanimous support in the conference hall.

This forms the basis of the campaign’s first key demand, which is for all agency workers on the BT contract to be paid at least the Real Living Wage of £8.75 outside London (RLW within the London area is £10.20ph).

Representatives from the union’s branches with Manpower members met at CWU headquarters last month to plan the first stages of the struggle for justice, with branch delegates making their strong views known on the subject.

“There was a very strong feeling among them that enough is enough,” reported Sally Bridge, CWU assistant secretary, who is leading the campaign at national level.

Sally explained that this is now the fourth agency workers’ campaign that the union has led and cited the progress achieved by the Eurotrashed, Power Up and Closing the Loopholes initiatives over the past decade.

But a lot of the progress made back then – winning the legal right to equal treatment for agency workers for example – was then undermined by the introduction of PBA (pay between assignments) contracts, which make the worker a direct employee of the agency and exempt her or him from the pay aspect of the equal treatment legislation.

This new loophole was also highlighted in the Annual Conference motion, which noted that PBAs “have been used to artificially keep pay rates low. While this may not be in breach of the law, it is morally wrong.”

“This will be Stage Two of our campaign,” Sally continued, explaining that, while the initial pay push will be pursued industrially with the employer and client, the fight against PBAs will take on a more political theme, attempting to use the recent Taylor Report into employment practices to highlight the urgent need for new legislation.

  • Watch out for closethegap campaign activities in your local area.
  • Contact your local branch to find out how you can help and get involved.


  1. To ensure that at the very minimum our Manpower members working on the BT account are paid the Real Living Wage.
  2. To eradicate Pay Between Assignment (PBA) contracts.
  3. Expose the low pay rates of our Manpower members as a consequence of PBA contracts, and to secure amendments to the UK Agency Worker Regulations 2010 (AWR) to close current loopholes that enable hirers and employment agencies to use PBA contracts and exploit agency workers.
  4. Continue to pressurise the hirer (BT) and employment agency (Manpower) on the issue of low pay as a consequence of the use of PBA contracts
  5. For branches to engage in national and local campaigning and to encourage Manpower members to become active.

In support of the campaign and for all who feel strongly on this issue, we ask if we could get as many names and signatures as possible to add to our petition – Please click here to sign the petition & return it to CWU Headquarters.

As part of Phase 2 of Close The Gap Campaign where the CWU continues to build political awareness an Early Day Motion (EDM) No 833 has now been put down by Hugh Gaffney MP for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill:

Please click on the link which will take you to the EDM:


Branches should use the model letters to write to their MP, irrespective of party, asking them to support the EDM and where possible Manpower members should seek a meeting with their MP to discuss how they can lend their support.

Model Letters: 

Agency Workers – Manpower PBA contract

Directly employed by BT

Other members

Summary sheet 


Please click here to download the poster supporting the campaign. We would encourage as many people as possible to be pictured holding the poster when signing the petition and posting your images on social media using the hashtag #CloseTheGap.

The #CloseTheGap Events Tour is in full swing, we’ve been gathering hundreds of signatures:-