A coalition of the major Trades Unions including the GMB and Unite today called on MPs to support the private member's Bill aimed at giving new rights to 1.4 million UK agency staff at second reading in the Commons today, Friday 22nd February 2008.
The Bill has been introduced by Andrew Miller MP for Neston & Ellesmere Port and is expected to be supported by over 100 Labour MPs. The Bill would introduce into UK law the same employment rights for agency staff as those enjoyed by permanent, directly employed staff. It covers the same ground as the proposed European Directive which may be discussed at the EU Employment, Social and Consumer Affairs Council on the 29th February 2008.
It was reported in the media that the UK Government is proposing a Commission of inquiry Chaired by Sir George Bain to see if agreement can be reached between the Unions and the CBI on the issue. The CBI is opposed to any employment rights for agency staff for their first 12 months of employment. The trade union want the employment right to apply to agency staff from day one.
Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary commenting on this report about a Commission said, "It is incredibly premature for the Government to be talking about setting up a Commission, with an independent chairman, to study the issue of agency workers' rights.
What is being offered so far is a second-hand fairy tale, which certainly does not have a happy ending. If every other country in Europe is prepared to give agency workers rights, why should we have to put up with being second or third class citizens? The Government is trying to appease the business lobby."
Samuel Tarry Chair of Compass Youth said: "Compass Youth believes that only UK legislation can end the scourge of widespread abuses and guarantee equal rights for equal treatment for over 1.4 million agency workers in the UK. I myself like many members of Compass Youth have worked as an agency worker and had to suffer worse conditions, pay and rights then my colleagues employed directly and not through an agency.
Compass Youth believes that the tide is turning with growing support for legislation among Labour MPs, across Europe and among the public generally.
For the bill to proceed though it needs the support of more than 100 MPs which is why we are asking MPs to be in the Commons on the 22 February and Back the Bill.
Please do your bit to stop agency workers being employed on poorer terms and conditions and the undercutting of directly employed staff. Compass Youth generates ideas - but also takes action - now is the time to do so"
Write to your MP and ask him or her to be in the Commons on 22 February to support the bill - a MS Word example of the letter to send can be downloaded here.
You can also call you MP by ringing the Houses of Parliament on 0207 219 3000 asking to be put through to their office.