New Labour Denies Rights to Agency Workers

Submitted by Janine on Mon, 03/05/2007 - 14:43

On Friday, the government blocked an attempt to give equal rights to agency workers. A Private Members' Bill (The Temporary and Agency Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Bill) would have given equality to the thousands upon thousands of agency workers who are denied basic equal rights in areas such as pay and holidays.

Employers are routinely using agencies as a way of getting work done on the cheap by workers who they can pick up and drop as they choose. And the government is going to carry on letting them do it.

Even the TUC - not renowned for its brash or militant stance for workers' rights - managed to support this Bill, though I have yet to see it denounce the 'Labour' government for sinking it.

The reason for New Labour's betrayal of agency workers? Well, apart from the general fact of being pro-business and anti-worker, it's because, according to Minister Jim Fitzpatrick, they do not support full equality, certainly not from day one of employment.

Never mind. Jim has an alternative, a consultation document on temporary and agency workers. If you find anything in there that substantially imporves agency workers' rights - let alone gives them equality - please let me know. You can be assured that should the agencies and other bosses find anything like that, they will make themselves heard during the 'consultation' and ensure that it, too, is sunk.

And here's what John McDonnell had to say about it all: "The Government's tactics today have been an open abuse of parliamentary democracy.

"The Private Member's Bills we were due to debate have both been endorsed by the TUC and Labour Party Conferences and had huge support on the backbenches.

"Deliberately preventing MPs from even having the opportunity to properly debate bills that extend the rights of working people in this country is an absolute disgrace and brings the whole of Parliament into disrepute.

"Labour supporters will be astonished to learn that the Government has done everything in its power to talk out not just Paul Farrelly’s excellent bill - seeking to give some protection to agency workers - but also the Trade Union Rights and Freedoms Bill, which I was introducing to restore to working people the rights stolen by Thatcher."

Trade Unions
The AWL, Labour and the Left