Life in the European Parliament with our MEP Peter Skinner: A fair deal for temps

Peter Skinner MEP
Peter Skinner MEP

On the 1st of October something called the Agency Workers Directive (AWD) came into force. This piece of EU law (backed by workers groups and national governments) means better pay and conditions for low paid temps.

Some rogue employers have used temps to undermine the terms and conditions of existing workforces, replacing permanent staff with agency workers on lower pay, with no security, no training, no sick pay, minimum holidays and no pension provision.

The AWD now means that after 12 weeks in a job temps will now have the right to the same pay as full-time workers in the same job. That’s good news for some of the lowest paid people in society and a fair deal for employers.

The Conservatives say this will cost businesses too much and act as a drag on growth. They need to stop blaming workers for their mistakes which are the real cause of our economic pain.

I want to be clear that I voted for the AWD because it aims to address the historically low wages paid to many temps; law firm Eversheds has estimated that they earn 34% less than permanent members of staff doing the same job. That can’t be right.

The Tory myth that these changes will make it too expensive to employ temps and that businesses will struggle with extra costs is wrong. Those are the exact same arguments that were used against the minimum wage in the late 90s and they were proved wrong. Employment continued to go up and millions of low paid workers were better off.

It’s true that times are tough for businesses, workers and families alike but we can’t expect those who are paid the least to bear the brunt. Undermining workers’ rights is not a good way of helping firms in the South East.

The fact is that businesses are struggling because the economy is struggling and the economy is struggling because the Government’s kamikaze cuts are choking off the recovery and hitting businesses and workers in the South East.

For the Conservatives to say the AWD is too expensive while in the next breath saying we need to cut taxes for the richest in society is ludicrous. Only someone as out of touch as David Cameron could think you can fix this country’s problems by making the rich richer and the poor poorer.

We need to support the rights of temps and we need to support a plan for growth which will help businesses. That’s how we will build a stronger economy and a better society.

Don’t forget you can learn more on my website and you can follow me on Twitter (@PWSkinnerMEP) and Facebook (Peter Skinner MEP).