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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 September 2006

Agency workers vote 100% for union recognition

AGENCY WORKERS in the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) in Workington, Cumbria have unanimously voted in favour of union recognition.

Tracy Edwards

The BCMS employs over 500 staff from the employment agency Adecco, with 60% of them having worked there for over two years. These workers only receive the minimum wage and do not have sick pay, bank holiday entitlements or a company pension scheme. Their average age is around 18, a large portion of them being school leavers.

They have no protection from dismissal and the employer does not have to give them notice.

The ballot was carried out by the CAC, the body which adjudicates on union recognition. The result is an overwhelming indication that agency workers want to have the same conditions and rights as permanent workers.

There was 574 ballot papers sent out, 368 returned, in a 64.1% turnout. None of the ballot papers were spoilt and all were returned with a 'yes' vote!

I spoke to one of the agency workers active in the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS). He told me: "There are three main employers in and around Workington: BCMS, Sellafield and a paper-making factory. They all employ agency staff.

"While Adecco (the agency which BCMS use) earns on average 145,000 per week of tax payers' money from BCMS, the average young person in Workington cannot afford anything near a decent quality of life. Something has to be done. It's criminal."

And something is now beginning to be done. This result will lift the hopes of these workers.

The branch organiser in the BCMS, who has been instrumental in the recognition campaign, told me "This is just the start. This is the first time ever that the CAC have run a ballot with 100% in favour. I look forward to the future and we will be building on from this fantastic result".

This campaign, which was organised by the PCS, has been watched closely by other unions and has now set the tone for future agency worker campaigns.

This is a great result for all workers and will now send a message to the employment agencies, that agency workers are prepared to stand up and unite in the fight for the right to decent employment, free from insecurity and exploitation.

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