Agency Staff At M&S Swindon Distribution Depot Bear Out Acas Report On Agency Workers' Job Security Fears
Marks and Spencer are able to pay workers £2 per hour less for the same work as the direct staff by exploiting a loophole in UK law known as the “Swedish Derogation” which should be closed says GMB
GMB, the union for agency staff at Marks and Spencer Distribution Centre in Swindon, responded to the claim by Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) that ACAS is exaggerating the problems facing agency workers. See notes to editor for story on the ACAS report and REC response to it on Press Association dated 19th March.
Carole Vallelly, GMB Regional Organiser, says "The claim by REC that ACAS is exaggerating the problems facing agency workers is not correct.
This is borne out by what happens to GMB members agency staff at the Marks and Spencer Distribution Centre in Swindon. This is now run for M&S by DHL who took over from Wincanton on 3rd January 2015. The majority of staff are employed through an employment agency called 24-7 Recruitment, but given contracts by another company called Tempay Ltd.
Workers employed through Tempay earn the minimum wage of £6.50 per hour compared to the £8.50 per hour paid to workers doing exactly the same job but employed directly through DHL/Wincanton.
Marks and Spencer are able to pay these 500 agency workers £2 per hour less for the same work as the direct staff by exploiting a loophole in UK agency workers law known as the “Swedish Derogation”. This loophole should be closed by the UK Parliament.
Not only are these M&S distribution staff only paid minimum wage of £6:50 per hour, but they are guaranteed only 7 hours per week. They live in a state of permanent anxiety, not knowing whether they will get enough work in any week to pay their bills and feed their families
Although Marks and Spencer chooses to outsource employment in their distribution chain to other companies, these are M&S warehouses, storing M&S goods, transported on M&S lorries to M&S stores, to be sold to M&S customers, making profits for M&S shareholders.
The outsourcing, and use of so called “umbrella companies” to cut staffing costs to the bone is itself unethical. Marks and Spencer claim to have an ethical supply chain when it comes to their overseas manufacturing suppliers. GMB is calling for them to take the same interest in ethical business much closer to home.”
Contact: GMB Wiltshire branch secretary, Andy Newman on 0754 0859 227, or GMB Regional Organiser, Carole Vallelly on 07912 181476 or Kevin Brandstatter 07813 207374 or Chris Watts on 01793 818 005 or 07776 238 327 GMB Press Office 07921 289 880
Notes to editors
Agency workers' 'job security fear 19 Mar 2015
By Alan Jones, Press Association Industrial Correspondent
Agency workers are not aware of their rights and are afraid to raise concerns because of fears over job security, according to a new report.
The conciliation service Acas said calls to its helpline showed that many agency employees didn't know how much holiday pay they were entitled to or how much notice period they had.
Examples included a woman who worked for social services who complained she was "coerced" in to working with vulnerable adults without proper training, and several people who had not been paid but didn't know what to do about it.
Acas chairman Sir Brendan Barber said: "Our analysis reveals that agency workers can feel a sense of insecurity and fear around their contracts, similar to those raised by calls to our helpline on zero hours contracts.
"We found examples of agency workers who were afraid of questioning their employment rights or completely unaware that they were entitled to some basic rights.
"Some workers also complained that they were asked to take on tasks that they were not qualified to handle and employers wanting to ignore the law so that they could sack people immediately."
Many agency workers were afraid of asserting their rights because they believed there was an "imbalance" of power in the workplace.
Acas called for greater awareness of how agency workers are treated.
Recruitment and Employment Confederation chief executive Kevin Green said: "Acas's own analysis shows that out of the 900,000 calls it received in 2014, 0.3% were related to agency work, and of this, 43% were from agency workers. That's 967 calls out of 1.15 million agency workers who are out on assignments on any given day.
"It's really disappointing to see the way that Acas have presented this issue. Recruiters are bound by regulations to make individuals aware of their rights and contractual terms. We set a compliance standard for our members that goes over and above the regulatory requirements."