Agency workers | Old enemies die hard

I forgot exactly how much the two sides hate each other. They’re up there with Hamas and the Israeli government, with Fischer and Spassky, with Wile E Coyote and Roadrunner.

My predication last month that a new one-off commission comprising unions and business leaders could resolve the stand-off on agency workers’ rights now appears wishful thinking, naive even.Before a commission has even been established the two sides (the CBI in one corner and, on this occasion, the GMB in the other) have started exchanging insults in the media like a couple of C-list celebrities fighting over a footballer.

New Labour and Cameron’s Conservatives may well be blurring the boundaries between left and right but when it comes to business leaders and union leaders, the divisions are debilitating.

The government may struggle to attract commissioners of a more objective stance to sit in what will have to be a specially designed padded meeting room with no sharp edges.

Straight away GMB chief Paul Kenny has veered off-piste with an attack on the CBI’s campaign to block the extradition of the Natwest Three. The Natwest Three who have of course since pleaded guilty.

Fair point Paul but what exactly has this got to do with agency workers?

In response the CBI, via the quote marks of deputy director general John Cridland, has attacked, quite rightly, the GMB’s propensity to rant its way up a sidetrack.

Come on chaps. Let’s sort this out. Begin like this…

The CBI has to accept one simple fact: Some employers are taking the Michael when it comes to agency workers. Suggesting anything else is disingenuous.

The GMB must accept one simple fact in return: Giving agency workers full employment rights the moment they step through the door is impractical and unnecessary.

Once you can agree that, you have the beginnings of a compromise. Easy peasy. This isn’t Macca vs Mucca.

As ‘Chuckle brothers’ Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness have found to their credit, for progress you may need to swallow a little pride.

Oh and turn off those broken records. If nothing else they send the rest of us to sleep.

About Rob Moss

Rob Moss has been editor of Personnel Today since 2010. Before that he was online editor.

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