Prime minister Tony Blair has been urged not to bow to union demands and give more employment rights to temporary workers – by the temps themselves.
A survey of 2,500 temps, presented to 10 Downing Street last week by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), revealed that the majority of respondents do not feel under-paid or under-valued, in stark contrast to union claims.
The survey also highlighted temp concerns about proposed EU regulations that the REC claims would “jeopardise the viability of temporary work in the UK”.
The Temporary Agency Workers Directive, which proposes that temps get the same rights as contracted staff after six weeks’ work, is yet to appear on the statute books, but union leaders have led demands for the regulations to be implemented in the UK.
However, Gareth Osborne, REC managing director, said the law would damage temps’ prospects, by restricting their flexibility.
“Temporary workers are sick of being patronised and portrayed as systematically under-valued and under-paid,” he said. “The first-hand accounts we have confirm that flexible working is increasingly valued.”
Osborne said temps played a vital role in making the UK economy one of the strongest in Europe.
“We urge the government to remain strong in resisting attempts to impose the kind of legislation that would damage this,” he said.
In a separate development, the REC has launched the first ever degree in recruitment. The three-year BA Hons degree in recruitment practice will be run by Middlesex University, with the first students due to start next month.
Marcia Roberts, REC deputy chief executive, said she hoped the new qualification would help raise the profile of the recruitment industry.
“There is a real need for this,” she said. “There is always a shortage of good quality recruitment consultants and we need to attract new people in to the profession.”