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Underpaid, Easy To Sack: Uk's Second Class Workforce

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http://money.guardian.co.uk/news_/story/0,,2175750,00.html

The government will face a challenge from unions tomorrow over the impact of migration on Labour's core working-class voters. The use of agency workers, most of them migrants, to drive down the pay and conditions of British workers is the sort of contentious issue the Labour leadership hoped to prevent being aired at the annual party conference but unions have decided to force the issue with a "contemporary" resolution demanding action.

Controversial new rules passed by the party yesterday, aimed at ending embarrassing defeats for the leadership, mean that such resolutions will not be allowed after this year and this year's will not to go to a vote. The government is adamant that the flexibility provided by agency workers has been a vital part of Britain's economic success. But the T&G section of Unite the Union is still expected to open tomorrow's debate by saying that the plight of more than a million agency workers is "the single biggest issue facing the country today" and is causing serious racial tension.

The Guardian has obtained submissions made to government by the leading unions which catalogue the replacement of traditional jobs with cheaper, casualised and often migrant labour in most industrial sectors. We publish a sample from them below, which show how radically the British workplace has altered since Labour came to power. Their evidence also alleges exploitation of migrants and racial tension as a two-tier workforce has emerged. A growing number of industrial disputes in the UK in the last year have been linked to the use of agency workers.

Unions will demand tomorrow that agency staff are given the same employment rights as permanent staff, to protect both local and migrant workers. Without new legislation, they say, they fear the death of the real job. More than 120 backbench Labour MPs who are under pressure from a rise in far-right nationalist parties in their constituencies have backed efforts to bring in equal rights through a private member's bill.

So far the Labour government has taken a lead in blocking a new directive in Europe on agency working. It has supported the view of the employers' federation the CBI that the effect on employment overall would be damaging. "If the government caves in to union pressure for a new EU law, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be put at risk, unless Gordon Brown at least insists on a qualifying period of a year before full rights apply," CBI deputy director general John Cridland said earlier this month.

The battle lines are being drawn. Derek Simpson, general secretary of Unite's Amicus section told us: "The epidemic of agency employment threatens both our economic and social fabric. Its effects are being felt in every industry in every region in the country."

The T&G section of Amicus, which has made recruiting migrant workers as members a priority, agreed. "The number of those directly employed is falling and the numbers of agency workers, overwhelmingly migrants on poorer conditions, are growing," deputy general secretary Jack Dromey said. "It's fuelling racial divisions. But the enemy is not the migrant, it's the exploitation. There should be equal treatment to protect everyone."

A&P shipbuilders, Tyneside

A&P, which has just won an MoD contract to refit a Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship, recruits agency workers, mainly Polish, via a company it part owns. The workers are paid £5 an hour less than permanent staff and can have contracts terminated with a day's notice. A subcontractor to A&P is said to use migrants at all grades except managerial. A&P did not respond to requests for comment.

Dawn Group meats

At the South Wales Dawn Pac meat plant, Unite Amicus say between 500-600 Polish migrants are employed through an agency, and that local staff have been steadily replaced in the last three years by agency workers on poorer terms and conditions. Agency workers are employed on zero hours contracts but have to do long shifts on the minimum wage, and have their travel and accommodation costs deducted by the agency.

At the Bedford plant, which packs meat for the major supermarkets, the T&G section of Unite says workers, many of them Polish, were forced to take a pay cut of 20% down to the minimum wage or lose their jobs earlier this year. The Dawn Group declined to comment.

BMW cars

Two thirds of the 700 shop floor workers at BMW's Hams Hall engine-making factory in Birmingham are local agency staff. They are paid up to £5 an hour less than permanently employed workers doing the equivalent job and have fewer benefits. Some temporary staff have more than five years' experience with the company, according to the union.

BMW's Swindon plant is currently recruiting around 100 agency workers, including migrants. At the Cowley plant in Oxford, there are 1,200 agency workers, including migrants, out of a total workforce of 4,700.

BMW says that it needs large numbers of agency workers to manage fluctuations in demand and run its operations "with greater flexibility" and in areas with high employment. Agency workers have opportunities to become fully employed.

St Ives printing

At its book division in Suffolk, unions say around 20 migrant agency workers are used on lower pay and less favourable conditions. The agency supplies the migrants with accommodation and transport and Hungarian workers have reported having to pay back large debts to the agency to cover their costs in coming to the UK.

At its factory in Andover, Hampshire, which prints leading magazines, up to a quarter of the workforce is agency labour. Migrants reported being bussed in for three hours from north London and being expected to work 15-hour shifts (since reduced after complaints to 12 hours). They have also complained of degrading practices in which supervisors require agency workers to put peas in a cup for every bundle of work they complete and demand they work faster.

A spokesman for St Ives said the company was confident that it "complies with relevant legislation relating to temporary workers and that they are fairly treated".

Trinity Mirror printing

Most of the agency staff at the Newcastle newspaper printing site are African migrants on lower rates of pay. According to the union many of them cover night shifts after studying or working all day elsewhere. Health and safety reps have raised concerns about lack of safety training and safety footwear.

At Trinity's Watford site, eastern European migrants have lower rates of pay than other workers. Union reps have complained that managers fuel tension between the migrants and local staff.

A spokesman for Trinity Mirror said the company used agency workers to fill a number of positions at its sites and was "satisfied with the excellent service they provide". He added that all agency workers received appropriate health and safety induction.

Quebecor World printing

Quebecor World is used by Guardian News and Media group to print its Observer magazines and other products.

Unite Amicus says that the company has steadily replaced its permanent workforce in unskilled areas with agency workers. Some 90 Poles and Lithuanians are currently working long shifts for significantly less pay than permanent staff, according to the union.

Quebecor commented: "Unemployment in the local area is low and they receive the local market rate of pay, which is above the statutory minimum wage. They work no more hours per shift, sometimes less, than our direct employees. A number have subsequently taken up direct employment with Quebecor."

Corus steel

At Corus's Teesside steelworks, self-employed agency labour is recruited on zero hours contracts and can be laid off without notice. At its Rotherham steel site, Polish agency workers are paid the same rates as permanent workers but do not receive the same benefits in overtime, sick and holiday pay. Corus employs 23,500 workers directly in the UK. Between 5,000 and 10,000 agency workers are thought to be used across the company.

A spokeswoman said Corus is aware that contracting companies use agency labour but it does not support the use of zero hours contracts and has received no complaints about contractors' terms and conditions.

Harper Collins books

Unite Amicus claims that originally 10 agency workers were brought in to the Glasgow warehouse/distribution site short term, but the numbers grew, so that after three months about 50 agency staff were being used. At peak periods up to 120 agency workers are now used, they say, the majority of them Poles, out of a workforce of approximately 300. The union successfully balloted for strike action over the issue of agency workers and overtime payments earlier this month and the dispute was settled earlier this month.

A HarperCollins spokeswoman said: "It is common practice within the publishing industry, and right across the distribution business, to use agency staff to respond to peak periods and fluctuating schedules. HarperCollins has always used temporary staff to provide the flexibility demanded by the business."

Coca Cola, Wakefield

Coca-Cola has been using an agency to recruit Polish workers to do quality checking for £5 an hour less than local workers. They do not have the pension, profit-sharing, and sick-pay benefits negotiated for permanent staff. A spokeswoman for Coca-Cola said that around 40 agency workers were used at its Wakefield site but that its dependency on agency workers had decreased in the last year. She said that their pay was in line with local rates for agency workers and that the disparity with its own direct employees at Wakefield arose because those staff were on the high end of the pay scale for food manufacturing. It also restricts the areas in which agency workers can be used so that it can maintain its health and safety record, she said.

Chep UK pallet suppliers

The company is part of a transnational corporation that leases wooden pallets to large manufacturers for retail distribution systems. The T&G says it has dismissed 70 permanent employees nationally and replaced them with Polish agency workers. The union believes they are paid £6 an hour compared to £9.40 per hour paid to direct labour.

A spokesman for Chep UK said that it was not company policy to replace UK employees with agency workers but that it needed agency workers to respond to peaks and troughs in demand from customers and necessarily had a constant turnover of staff.

"Agency workers provide that flexibility which is why they are being used more and more in all sectors across the UK," he said. The nationality of workers and how much they were paid was down to the agencies, he added.

Poultry sector

The largest supermarket poultry slaughtering and packing factories in the UK are increasingly dependent on low-paid migrants employed through agencies, the T&G says. The sector is dominated by three companies: Grampian, Moy Park and Bernard Matthews.

The union accuses the industry of using agency labour to bypass normal employer obligations, giving examples from Grampian and Moy Park to the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. It believes over a third of agency workers in the sector have been working for more than six months but as well as being paid less for the same work, they lose out on sick and holiday pay, it says. The union claims that at some sites up to half the workforce can be migrants from agencies.

But the companies dispute the figures. Grampian says its chicken business employs almost 4,000 people, of which 6.7% (264 people) are agency labour. It says it uses migrant agency workers "to complement its core workforce at times of peak production, for short-notice cover, and in areas where it has become difficult to recruit due to low levels of unemployment and the rural nature of facilities." Some 1,400 union members took strike action in April at Grampian factories over pay, the use of agency workers and cuts in pensions.

At Moy Park poultry factories, agency workers, most of them migrants, are paid the minimum wage and not only receive less money than permanent workers doing the same jobs but miss out on sick pay and holiday, according to the union. Moy Park said it needed agency workers to cover peaks in demand and because there was a shortage of local workers. Some 350 agency staff have joined Moy Park since January and more than 600 in the past 18 months, a spokesman said. He added that the company met all the requirements of EU law and the ethical trading code in independent audits.

Construction sector

Large numbers of agency workers, many migrants, are classed as "self-employed", work on zero hours contracts, are paid below agreed industry rates and have hidden costs deducted from pay for accommodation and transport, according to unions. Tax avoidance is rife, and employers use subcontracting chains and self-employment to avoid their obligations, according to the construction union Ucatt. Large numbers of agency workers are found on all major infrastructure projects, it says.

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......workers sold down the river to keep Gordo's bubble flying but at the same time surpressing wages with phoney inflation figures and cheap labour.....very cheap Nulabour ....selling out their traditional voters.... :ph34r::ph34r::ph34r:

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Underpaid eh? Somebody must be stopping them from looking for a better paid job!

If no-one is stopping them from looking then I must conclude that they are being paid exactly what they should be.

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Crocodile tears. The unions have been at the forefront of promoting immigration into this country against the interests of indigenous folk.

They have funded anti-nationalist spoiling campaigns and organisations, they have promoted a multicultural agenda and political correctness, they have engaged in witch hunts and purges of those who have raised these issues so it's a little bit late in the day for them to start wingeing now. F@ckwits.

Edited by Solvent Celt

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Underpaid eh? Somebody must be stopping them from looking for a better paid job!

If no-one is stopping them from looking then I must conclude that they are being paid exactly what they should be.

Let's hope Santa brings you a carcinoma for Christmas.

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I've been voting labour for over 25 years and this issue is probably the only factor that will make me change parties. I think this Labour government has sold the British worker down the river and I find the whole thing disgusting.

It's a disgrace if a government has used cheap labour to keep inflation down, as in my opinion this is interfering labour costs. They are keeping labour costs down and the tax paying is paying tax credits to bring these workers to a living wage.

To be honest I'm not sure what I think anymore but I really hope that who ever wins the next general election the person in charge puts a stop to all of this.

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Underpaid eh? Somebody must be stopping them from looking for a better paid job!

If no-one is stopping them from looking then I must conclude that they are being paid exactly what they should be.

Sounds like a tory opinion to me, when last in, one of their quotes was 'your employer will pay you what you are worth'. which often meant less than a subsistance wage. As for finding other jobs, its no where near as easy as your filpant comment would assume it is, hard enough if you are a native now. When the tories get in next and they do away with the minimum wage, these employers will drop their wages quick smart, would you then say 'that is what they should be paid?

this in my opionion is Labours big disgrace, more like a tory trick copied from the yanks.

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Welcome to New Labour's Brave New World!

But come on would Cameron have done it differently. I'm not convinced he would and despite public opinion the conservatives are not willing to remove working rights for immigrants EU and Non EU.

NuLab & NuConservatives are very similar, they are both in the pockets of business and really don't care about people on low wages. Sure there are Labour MPs out there that have grass roots to the labour market but they're not in the cabinet, but without these grass roots labour would not have power. Soon working people will I hope start voting for the LibDems and we might actually end up with a choice rather than Tory or Labour.

We should start a campaign to try and boost the LibDems, it has to be good for politics to have another choice. Who would consider voting for them?

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Unions have just woken up to the fact they they won;t have a unions membership, certainly not a long term membership and will be despised by the people who are actuaally still members and working. Well duh how thick are these unions?

The patterns emerging are just like the patterns that were found in the German market - I remember loads of articles abut German meat packing firms etc from a couple of years ago who beasically trasnplanted /supplanted their whole workforce.

Shit hitting fan at full pelt over these issues very soon. Those who think this is not a problem better have copper bottomed jobs, you won;t want to be entering the jobs markets in teh not too distant future, you really will be surprised and if not ready for a fall income - wiped out by the consequences.

Edited by OnlyMe

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Shit hitting fan at full pelt over these issues very soon. Those who think this is not a problem better have copper bottomed jobs, you won;t want to be entering the jobs markets in teh not too distant future, you really will be surprised and if not ready for a fall income - wiped out by the consequences.

Its also why you need to be incredibly bearish about house prices because there are just not going to be the stable long term jobs around to support the huge mortgages required especially when you also take into account the offshoring of "middle class" jobs such as IT, and not just manual labour.

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Make no mistake, the low wage scramble is going to obliterate the economic viability of millions who are reliant on higher wages to finance long term living costs in the UK.

This situation is uterly unstable and usustainable.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/arti...amp;ito=newsnow

This site Business directory

11 Oct 2007 Login » Register »

News

Two million migrants now fill one in 14 jobs in the UK

By JAMES SLACK and STEVE DOUGHTY - More by this author » Last updated at 00:31am on 12th October 2007

Comments Comments

The number of immigrants working in the UK has rocketed by more than 70 per cent since Labour came to power, official figures revealed yesterday.

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Crocodile tears. The unions have been at the forefront of promoting immigration into this country against the interests of indigenous folk.

They have funded anti-nationalist spoiling campaigns and organisations, they have promoted a multicultural agenda and political correctness, they have engaged in witch hunts and purges of those who have raised these issues so it's a little bit late in the day for them to start wingeing now. F@ckwits.

Too true. The elite want a moble "flexible" workforce to continue to cheaply man the factories that make their highly desirable BMWs etc. Their wet dream is to get everybody on the planet working to this model. A mob of poorly paid, rootless and easy to manipulate robots is the aim. We're hurtling towards that goal as time goes by and most of us are oblivious to it.

Edited by BarrelShifter

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Its also why you need to be incredibly bearish about house prices because there are just not going to be the stable long term jobs around to support the huge mortgages required especially when you also take into account the offshoring of "middle class" jobs such as IT, and not just manual labour.

Yes - no stable jobs environment and you don't go spending every penny you have (and a shed load more via debt) in consumption. I don't care what anybody say a wealthy top 5% cannot and certainly has no intention of carrying the rest of the economy. Game over. This is am asinine polcidy from the get go detines to failure. The questinion is only how high a peak do we want to fall from, the peak this time round is very high indeed.

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Too true. The elite want a moble "flexible" workforce to continue to cheaply man the factories that make their highly desirable BMWs etc. Their wet dream is to get everybody on the planet working to this model. A mob of poorly paid, rootless and easy to manipulate robots is the aim. We're hurtling towards that goal as time goes by and most of us are oblivious to it.

Being one of the elite, I am more than happy with this.

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Being one of the elite, I am more than happy with this.

No you're not. You lack both the political influence and monetary backing to be one of the 'elite'. You're simply the kind of goon that will shill for them in exchange for a few crumbs from the table. I guess this attitude would be consistent with the conversion to bull, one who is by nature complicit with the fracturing of society

Edited by BoomBoom

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No you're not. You lack both the political influence and monetary backing to be one of the 'elite'. You're simply the kind of goon that will shill for them in exchange for a few crumbs from the table.

Yawn. read my post above you twit.

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Crocodile tears. The unions have been at the forefront of promoting immigration into this country against the interests of indigenous folk.

They have funded anti-nationalist spoiling campaigns and organisations, they have promoted a multicultural agenda and political correctness, they have engaged in witch hunts and purges of those who have raised these issues so it's a little bit late in the day for them to start wingeing now. F@ckwits.

Back in the real world the unions, for many decades, opposed immigration... They may have also opposed some of the nationalist parties as these are often either rather right wing, or are frighteningly racist (e.g. BNP)

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Let's hope Santa brings you a carcinoma for Christmas.

That really is a very horrific thing to say.

Boarder was only making a valid point that many people may agree with.

I'm tempted to report you.

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