Sep 30 2011
Historic day for agency workers
Tomorrow, Saturday 1st of October sees two historic events. Firstly, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) in partnership with a growing number of faith, equality, anti-poverty and campaign organisations will hold the People First march and rally.
The march will go from Glasgow Green to Kelvingrove Park where thousands will assemble to hear speeches and music before attending a range of fringe events held in places of worship, student unions, public buildings and hotels in the vicinity of the park.
The event will also feature a specific initiative to raise funds for the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal created to help those hit by famine in Africa. Sponsoring and supporting organisations for the event will be very diverse, but have in common the aim of working together on a non-partisan basis to:
• challenge poverty levels and campaign for redistribution of wealth across Scotland and the UK;
• campaign to protect those hardest hit by service and benefit cuts; and;
• help to build and reconnect Scotland’s communities.
To see a programme of the day’s events visit:
The second important event for working people is the introduction of new employment rights for agency workers. They are contained in the Agency Workers Directive that comes into force on 1st October 2001.
These rights, passed by the European Parliament, will give agency workers day one rights and protections in some areas and equal treatment on pay after a twelve week qualifying period. From day one of an assignment agency workers will have a right to:
• Equal access to collective facilities provided by their hirer;
• Information and the opportunity to apply for vacancies in the hirer’s workplace.
After 12 weeks in the same role with the same hirer agency workers will have the right to:
• equal treatment on pay, holidays and working time;
• improved pregnancy rights.
I believe that agency workers in a union will be more successful at enforcing their rights and challenging attempts at avoidance than workers who do not enjoy the protection, resources and legal expertise of a trade union.
I would also like to see agencies, and employers who use agency workers, using their energies to implementing these rights in the spirit in which they were intended rather than seeking to find loopholes to avoidance.
It is very important that agency workers make sure they are well informed about these rights, as concerns are growing that many employers are beginning to amend or renew contracts in an attempt to avoid ensuring these rights.
The responsibility falls on agency workers to trigger a challenge to enforce their rights to equal treatment, I know that for many doing this individually without union support will be a daunting prospect.
The regulations are fairly complicated; agency workers who are members of a trade union are going to be much more successful at ensuring their equal treatment rights and challenging attempts at avoidance than those who do not enjoy the protection, resources and legal expertise unions can offer.
Unfortunately equal treatment rights for agency workers are not retrospective. Any work done by an agency worker for a hirer before 1 October 2011 will not count towards a 12-week qualifying period. The first day that an agency worker can qualify for equal treatment on pay, holidays and working time entitlements will be 24 December 2011.
Let’s hope they enjoy this gift from the European parliament and have the Merry Xmas they deserve, not working for Scrooge employers.
For more information on these rights please go to: