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Increase in agency staff 'will move workers back into self-employment'

AMICUS shop stewards have warned that the Electrical Contractors Association's plans to give agencies more sway in the sector will force workers away from direct employment.

The stewards have rejected employers' proposals for an agency 'employment business forum' to replace Rule 17 of the JIB agreement, which states that agency labour can never be in the majority on a contract in normal circumstances.

The proposals state that members of the forum must offer operatives a choice between direct hire under JIB rules, or indirect hire 'no less favourable' than equivalent take home pay under the agreement.

Employees will then have to sign a declaration confirming their choice, which cannot be changed for the duration of the contract.

But one angry shop steward said: 'The reality is that there will be no choice. People will be pressured into going self-employed.

'Do people really think that agencies are going to start taking people on the cards? It's not going to happen.'

The employers said they are still committed to direct employment and that the forum is to bring agency workers into line with JIB terms and conditions.

The document states: 'The aims of the forum are to support the industry's requirement for labour, the training of operatives and recognised standards of competency.

'Through its more formalised participation in the industry's institutions the forum intends to bring greater regulation to what has now become a significant sector of the labour market.'