Agency workers set to benefit after EU deal…

Up to 30,000 temporary agency workers in Ireland should benefit from the same pay and conditions as full time staff under a new law agreed by EU labour ministers early this morning. Following marathon talks in Luxembourg yesterday, ministers finally agreed a deal on two related labour laws: the working time and temporary agency workers directives. Under the agreement, agency workers should normally receive equal pay and conditions from day one of starting work. A flexibility clause included in the legislation will enable employers to negotiate with trade unions to try to introduce a phase-in period before full rights are received for some industrial sectors. But in the absence of this type of social partnership deal the default position for agency workers is full rights from day one. Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan said although agency working will continue to be a legitimate and important form of flexible labour market supply, "it cannot be used to indefinitely circumvent any obligations to workers regarding pay and other basic entitlements". "This directive represents another key measure agreed by the EU to ensure that there will be no "race to the bottom" in terms of employment standards." Minister for Labour Affairs Billy Kelleher, who attended the negotiations, said the key breakthrough from Ireland’s perspective was that the compromise deal empowered the social partners to find a deal. “Now, arrangements can be agreed to ensure the continued flexibility and availability of agency work to those choosing it, but also that temporary agency workers will achieve equal treatment on pay and basic entitlements within an agreed time frame,” he said. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) warmly welcomed the deal as “a very good development for a very exploited section of the workforce”.


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