GMB chief Tim Roache calls for agency workers cap to tackle exploitation

Bosses are trying to 'maximise profit on the back of insecure work', Roache tells MPs

 

GMB General Secretary Tim Roache has called for a cap on agency workers to stop bosses using them to ‘maximise profit on the back of insecure work’.

Speaking to MPs on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, the trade union chief said firms like Sports Direct and Asos are exploiting short-term contracts ‘on an industrial scale’.

He said the practice has become a business model to create a permanent workforce of people with no rights or protections.

Roache said:

“The idea that companies are using agency labour to meet short-term demand is thoroughly undermined when we see the volume of agency workers big brand names are now rely upon as a matter of course.

There is absolutely no reason why a decent employer would keep staff on an insecure contract with inferior rights if it’s not to make a fast buck and take zero responsibility.”

He added:

“A cap on the number of agency workers a company can use and making sure they are transparent in doing so is the minimum the government can and should start with.

Employing agency workers on an industrial scale has become a business model for some companies, but someone always has to pay, be it the individual, the government to the tune of billions in tax credits and other benefits, or the economy.

When you start to piece together the national picture – agency work, bogus self-employment, zero hours contracts and the gig economy – you start to see an image of working Britain that is just not acceptable in the twenty first century.”

Roache concluded: ‘Working people deserve dignity in their work and in their lives, the ability to plan for the future, to know where their next pay cheque will come from.

‘All this is possible, but the government needs to take action to make it so.’

You can watch him give evidence to the Select Committee here.

GMB supports a cap on the number of agency workers a company can have on the books at any one time.

The union is also calling on the government should force companies to publish what proportion of work is done by agency workers.

Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13 

See: Theresa May should invite Uber drivers for tea in Downing Street, says GMB

2 Responses to “GMB chief Tim Roache calls for agency workers cap to tackle exploitation”

  1. Michael

    How is a man to spend his money if he does not know whether he will have a wage next week?

  2. Chester Draws

    There is absolutely no reason why a decent employer would keep staff on an insecure contract with inferior rights if it’s not to make a fast buck and take zero responsibility.”

    Utterly wrong. Schools use supply teachers constantly because they must replace a staff member for a day they are away. Some of those contracts last weeks, but the end is uncertain. Schools don’t do it to save money, they do it to manage staff levels. And that is why most companies do it too.

    Don’t confuse the scumbags who exploit the system with every person using short term workers.

    And anyway cap would be the least good way to solve the problem.

    1) some industries use agency workers legitimately, so shouldn’t be harmed.

    2) caps are hard to monitor and hard to enforce. Who would do this? How would they count them? Would expensive and difficult court cases be useful if people broke the rules?

    3) Caps, like quotas, can be gamed. When is a short-term contract a genuine short-term contract and when is it agency?

    The unions need to leave the 20th century and start thinking up solutions that are suitable for modern times.

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