Employers in Britain
will now, as a result of changes just announced, have to pay more for agency
workers and give them a holiday entitlement – which rather defeats the object
of hiring agency workers.
Predictably, the media,
especially the pro-government BBC, spun this story as new “rights” for workers
– despite the fact that no real pressure for this came from the agency workers
themselves, most of whom are happy with the flexibility of being agency
The real reason for
the change is that the pro-government trades unions were all too aware that
employers were relying more and more on agency workers in order to avoid having
to hire staff on permanent contract. Since permanent staff are more likely to
be union members, the unions were simply looking after their own.
Or were they?
Employers are forced to turn to agency workers largely because of the excessive
legal burden of hiring permanent staff. Perhaps the unions would do better to
campaign against that legal burden.