Euro bureaucrats are knocking at your door

marks a vital meeting on the future of the Agency Workers Directive, when it is
discussed by the EU’s Council of Ministers.

directive, as drafted, will give the UK’s 1.8 million temporary workers the
right to equal employment conditions as permanent staff from day one of
employment. It will also give them the right to equal pay six weeks after they
have been hired.

Today first highlighted employer concerns over the impact of the directive in
February last year. Our survey on it attracted more than 1,000 responses from
employers and revealed that almost 80 per cent of them think the directive will
increase staffing costs. Three-quarters believe it would lead to more red tape.

half of the organisations polled are concerned that it will damage the UK’s
competitiveness. A majority think they will employ less temps if the directive
is introduced without changes.

minister Alan Johnson is right to fight for changes (see page 1) so that agency
staff don’t qualify for the same pay and conditions as permanent employees
until they have been working for an employer for up to a year.

Council of Ministers could give ground and introduce an extended qualification
period, but there is no guarantee that the European Parliament won’t
subsequently overturn this.

would mean the UK would have to comply with legislation completely unsuited to
its particular labour market, and employers will suffer. If this undermines our
competitiveness, then the very jobs the directive is being introduced to
protect will be at risk.

if this situation is not worrying enough, we now face the prospect of even
further interference from EU bureaucrats with the implications of the draft
European constitution. There has been a lot of media hype about this over the
last week, but the potential problems with it are real enough.

experts are concerned that the constitution could lead to fundamental changes
to the UK’s industrial relations culture because it may give unions greater
powers over recognition and collective bargaining.

and industry bodies need to start lobbying the Government now to ensure we are
not faced with more European legislation creeping through the back door that
ultimately benefits no-one.

Ben Willmott

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