Temps are "working on the edge"


Temporary workers in the UK are being given an increasingly "raw deal" from both employers and the government, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has today claimed.

A new report from the trade union criticises the treatment of temporary employees in the workplace, citing a lack of employment rights and reduced financial rewards or incentives.

The TUC surveyed the country's biggest employers, each with a workforce of at least 100,000 permanent staff and 15,000 temps, and found that in 87 per cent of cases, agency workers were earning less than their permanent counterparts.

In addition, temporary workers are not allowed to contribute to pension schemes, are given less holiday entitlement and do not receive sick pay, the TUC claims.

Despite the fact that many temps are performing "key roles" within a significant proportion of companies, the union believes that employers still view agency workers as a "way of getting staff on the cheap", and are prone to getting rid of temps "when they feel like it".

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, criticised the government for not doing more to protect the rights of temporary workers, especially in terms of redundancy payments and claims for unfair dismissal.

He said: "Clearly temporary jobs are always going to be preferable for some people who have family or other commitments, but there's no reason why the thousands of individuals who opt for agency work should be getting such a raw deal."

Mr Barber explained that as well as introducing domestic legislation, the government could lend its support to the agency workers' directive of the European Union, which has been put on the backburner.

"If it became law, the EU directive would instantly make life fairer for temps by giving them the same basic rights as their permanent colleagues. The government should do all it can to breathe life back into the shelved directive and to encourage other European governments to give the draft legislation similar support," the general secretary argued.

Four-fifths of the companies surveyed by the TUC said they had increased the number of temporary workers hired since 2001, while temps make up 18 per cent of the UK's total workforce.

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