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McLaughlin demands protection for Employment Agency Workers

20 November, 2007

Sinn Féin Economy spokesperson Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) has called on the Minister for Employment & Learning to take whatever measures necessary to provide equal treatment for Employment Agency workers.

Mitchel McLaughlin said:

"Following the recent announcement of the loss of over 900 jobs at Seagate in Limavady it transpired that a substantial number of the workers were actually contracted through Employment Agencies and therefore not entitled to the same redundancy packages as directly employed workers. We must not allow this method of worker recruitment to become prevalent in our society as it serves only to diminish workers rights and rates of remuneration while absolving mainly multi-national conglomerates of their obligations of providing statutory and other benefits to agency workers.

"Recent research showed that agency workers were paid on average only 68% of the directly employed workforce's earnings; had less entitlements; are younger on average than the directly employed workforce and have less control over the work they do.

"It is incumbent on the Executive and the Assembly to ensure that we provide equal opportunity and treatment for agency workers. There is a growing concern that the growth in the Employment Agency sector creates the conditions for exploitation and abuse of these workers. We have to ask why we need such a growth in the number of agencies and who is benefiting from them? I am calling on the Minister to introduce immediately measures that will protect the rights of workers to equal pay, pensions and other benefits awarded to those directly employed by companies." ENDS

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