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McLaughlin welcomes Equality Legislation for Agency Workers

5 December, 2011

Sinn Féin Finance Committee Member, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) has welcomed the Agency Workers Regulations 2011 which comes into effect today and will provide the same basic working and employment conditions that they would be entitled to if they had been employed directly by the hirer.

Mitchel McLaughlin said:

“I welcome the introduction of this legislation four years after I introduced a motion in the Assembly (January 2008) calling on the then Minister for Employment and Learning ‘to take the necessary measures to protect agency workers, and to ensure that such workers are provided with the same statutory protections, regarding pay and conditions of employment, as the directly employed workforce’.

“For too long migrant workers were exploited by unscrupulous employers as a source of cheap labour at a time of high employment. But it wasn’t long before multi-nationals recognised the opportunity to maximise profit while divesting themselves of statutory obligations to the section of their workforce recruited through Employment Agencies.

“It wasn’t very long before this avenue of hiring employees became almost the norm rather the direct hire route.

“I raised concerns at the time of the motion that the growth in the Employment Agency sector was creating the conditions for exploitation and abuse of these workers. I welcome the fact that this concern is now widely accepted and that it now forms part of the requirements of the European Agency Workers Directive.”

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