Friday, 4 November 2011

Think it through

“We live in perpetual hope that maybe, down the line, we might get a small pay increase,” says Mark, an agency driver currently working for Tesco. “We’re not necessarily looking for pay parity, we’re just looking for the crumbs from the table.”
Fair enough, I suppose.  Everyone wants a pay increase, but the terms and conditions were laid out when you joined - they're not cutting your pay, they're just not paying you as much as you might get if you worked in another role for Tesco.
Mark is one of thousands of agency workers up and down the country who has recently been asked to sign away his rights to the same pay as permanent staff at the supermarket – overriding new equal pay rules which came into effect last month. He stands to lose about £150 extra a week.
No he doesn't.  He had a choice - sign away the "rights" or lose his job.  The £150 a week was never on the table - he never had it, so how can he lose it?  If he was happy to work for his current salary when he got the job, why should he suddenly get a big pay rise now?
On average, temps currently get paid about a third less than permanent staff doing the same job, according to the TUC.
That's usually for a number of reasons.  For example, they've often not been with the company long and are not expected to stay all that long, so they don't get the same level of training as permanent staff, so they don't produce the same quality of work as permanent staff.  Also, they can usually leave with a minimum of notice (1 day is not unheard of) and thus the company can't rely on them to the same extent as they do their own staff.  Also it's often a lot easier to get a temp job (my company has a battery of tests and assessments that you need to pass to get a job, to ensure that they get people who can cope with the role.  For temps who are mostly filing or putting letters in envelopes it's not necessary for them to have the same level of ability, so they don't get the same pay and don't have to do the tests).

I'm sure there are some workers out there who do complicated, detailed work and are employed as temps.  All I can say to them is that if you don't like it, get another job.  If you're vital where you are, threaten to leave.

Fundamentally, I just don't see why companies should be forced to treat temps and permanent staff the same given that there are significant differences between them.

(I also don't think government should be involved at all in what people do in their private interactions and should just stop trying to tell us all how to live, but that's never going to happen)

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