Lifting ban on agency workers filling in during strikes will not solve the problem

(3 minutes to read)

REC: ‘Agencies want the ban to stay to avoid them being pressured by clients into supplying staff into hostile and potentially dangerous situations’.

Experts believe that the government allowing a lift on the ban where agency workers fill in during strikes is counter-productive, impractical and puts workers at risk.

This is according to the TUC and REC, with both calling on the government to abandon its ‘unworkable’ plan.

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation), said, “The government’s proposal will not work. Agency staff have a choice of roles and are highly unlikely to choose to cross picket lines. Agencies want the ban to stay to avoid them being pressured by clients into supplying staff into hostile and potentially dangerous situations. Earlier this year, we saw the effect on agencies who inadvertently got drawn into the P&O dispute. That offers a salutary lesson.

“In all disputes, our aim should be to resolve conflict, not to prolong it. Inserting a different firm’s workers into the middle of a dispute can only ever inflame tensions.”

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Carberry added, “We urge ministers to re-consider this wrong-headed approach, which runs counter to the standards adopted by the employment industry globally. Business is best served by negotiations, not showdowns.”

Paul Nowak, TUC (Trades Union Congress) deputy general secretary, said, “Just a few months ago Grant Shapps slammed P&O for replacing experienced workers with agency staff. But now he’s proposing to do the same on railways.

“Having repeatedly promised a high-wage economy, ministers now seem determined to reduce workers’ bargaining power and to make it harder for working people to win fair pay and conditions.

“This government has the power to play an active role in helping to end disputes. But it would rather escalate tensions and pick a fight with unions.”

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