In the gig economy, recruitment agencies are the gangmasters

Published on The Guardian, by Faiza Shaheen, Nov 16, 2016.

These seemingly bland organisations are actively undermining employment rights, driving precarious workers into the arms of exploitative companies … //

… It is estimated that recruitment agencies employ 1.2 million people every day. Agencies are now the vehicle by which desperate workers are driven into the arms of exploitative employers, and they are fundamental to understanding the new age of precarity in the labour market and the “gig economy”.

There are hundreds of examples – from Sports Direct to NHS cleaners – of agencies actively undermining the rights of employees. One recent case was brought to light by the trade union GMB. Agency workers at an Asos warehouse in Grimethorpe, South Yorkshire, are being subject to a “flexing clause”, which employers argue was introduced to help manage peak times and quiet periods.

What it actually means is that workers can arrive at the warehouse only to be told they will be starting two hours later (with these two hours unpaid), or indeed work two hours later in the evening. When workers refuse, they are disciplined. This practice can cause a great deal of stress – particularly for those with childcare commitments. These flex contracts are likely to be in breach of employment law because it means workers aren’t actually being paid the minimum wage.

Video: revealed, how employment agencies avoid tax, 3.04 min … //

… It is therefore odd that while immigration has become a growing public concern, recruitment agencies have continued to flourish. At the Centre for Labour and Social Studies conference last month, the general secretary of the Unite union, Len McCluskey, spoke of this race to the bottom culture, calling for us to focus on safeguards for workers, and proposing that any employer wishing to recruit labour abroad could only do so if they are either covered by a proper union agreement, or by sectoral collective bargaining. Such solutions get to the heart of problems in the labour market and would help us move away from an unhelpful and misleading focus on the number of immigrants.

Of course, we must acknowledge that some progress has been made on the rights of agency workers – through holiday pay legislation, for example. However, such legislation is itself used for abusive ends. For example, the Agency Workers Regulations were introduced to ensure equality of pay for long-term temporary workers compared with their permanent counterparts. Instead, this legislation has been used as a means of undercutting permanent staff … //

… (full text).

Related Links:

  • Computing: Is the Gig Economy Rigged? on MIT Technology Review, by Will Knight, Nov 17, 2916: a new study suggests that racial and gender bias affect the freelancing websites TaskRabbit and Fiverr—and may be baked into underlying algorithms. Apps and sites that can be used to hire people for individual tasks like picking up groceries or designing a new logo have taken off in recent years, promising a more efficient and fairer marketplace for employment. However, a new study out of Northeastern University in Boston suggests that racial and sexual discrimination may be common on two popular “gig economy” platforms …;
  • Why No One Can Seem to Agree On What the Gig Economy Actually Is, on TIME/money, by Bob Sullivoan, Nov 16, 2016: Roughly half of American workers would make their money in the “gig” economy if they had their way, a new survey suggests. And already, about 60 million Americans do. Or, maybe it’s only a few hundred thousand people who are gig workers now. It all depends on how you count …;
  • on en.wikipedia: Gig Economy / Temporary Work or temporary employment refers to an employment situation where the working arrangement is limited to a certain period of time based on the needs of the employing organization. Temporary employees are sometimes called “contractual”, “seasonal”, “interim”, “casual staff”, “outsourcing”, “freelance”; or the word may be shortened to “temps”. In some instances, temporary, highly skilled professionals (particularly in the white-collar worker fields, such as law, engineering, and accounting) refer to themselves as consultants …;

Other Links:

RT’s first-ever 360° video from space allows viewers to feel like real cosmonauts, 1.27 min, on RT, Nov 18, 2016;

60 Minutes Interview with George Soros, 13.27 min, uploaded by The Truth Division, Nov 12, 2016;

VOLLGELD INITIATIVE: Swiss government opposes initiative to transform monetary system, on le News, local Swiss News in english, by Investec Switzerland, Nov 9, 201: the Swiss government urged rejection of a popular initiative that would transform the monetary system and end fractional-reserve banking, according to its dispatch to Parliament …; the Federal council’s rejection of the initiative: in French; in German;

Websites Vollgeld Initiative: in english; auf deutsch; en français (appellé initiative Monnaie Pleine); in Italiano (Iniziativa Moneta Intera);

uploaded by Lewis Howes, he speaks with:
- Jason Silva, the Power of the Mind to Create Your Reality, 64.30 min,
- Joshua Fields Millburn, the Power of Being a Minimalist, 56.40 min,
- John Assaraf, Unlocking Your Brain’s Full Potential, 76.53 min,

des petits hommes verts et de nos vrais dangers, 1. Dez 2005;

… and this:

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