MPs last night approved controversial legislation that will allow temporary workers to cover for employees who are on strike. Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps MP, proposed the change last month in response to rail workers’ strikes and likelihood of largescale industrial action in other sectors this summer.
Not only have the plans have been rushed through parliament at a time of political turmoil, they are opposed by our friends over at the REC (which represents the recruitment sector) and TUC (trade union supporting workers’ rights). They vociferously expressed their concerns about the ‘unworkable plan’ and are disappointed with the decision to bulldoze ahead anyway.
The legislation will be an amendment to Regulation 7 of the Agency Conduct Regulations which previously prohibited employment businesses from providing agency workers to cover the duties normally performed by employees on strike.
In reality, the change will prolong the conflict between employees and employers, it undermines employee rights, it is impractical and unfair on all concerned. Furthermore, it’s very unlikely that there are sufficient numbers of appropriately qualified temps available, and high demand means there are plenty of other roles to choose that don’t involve crossing a picket line.