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2007 Local Government Service Group Conference
23 February 2007
Carried as Amended

Conference notes the extensive use of atypical contracts in local government, and that young workers are over represented amongst those on atypical contracts, including term time working and agency working.

Conference reaffirms the concerns expressed by Local Government Conference 2004 about the position of Term Time workers. Term Time workers also lose out through low pay and limited working hours. Over 90% of term time workers are women who face discrimination through their pay. This in turn has a detrimental effect on their pension and maternity rights and any other rights based on qualifying periods or earnings related criteria. Term-time working is often accompanied by lack of holiday pay, temporary status, insecurity and lack of employment and benefit rights.

Conference notes that Agency workers are more likely to be young workers. In autumn 2002, about 35% were under 25 years old and 65% were under 35 years old. This compares with 12% and 35% respectively in these age groups for all those in work (including self-employment).

Conference notes the findings of the TUC report “EU Temp Trade” published in 2005 which found that unlike the rest of Europe most of the UK’s estimated 600,000 temporary agency workers receive no sick pay, work pension, protection from unfair dismissal, or vocational training and are paid less than permanent colleagues doing similar work. According to the TUC, on average an agency worker earns about 70p for every pound that a permanent worker earns for doing the same job. Furthermore agency workers are particularly at risk of bullying at work because of their insecure employment status. Young workers have the right not to be bullied at work.

Conference recollects that National Delegate Conference 2003 agreed a motion from the National Young Members Forum, calling upon the National Executive Council to work with branches, regions and service groups to place the key work-based issues confronting modern apprentices, agency workers and those on temporary and atypical contracts at the centre of our bargaining agenda.

This Conference, in 2005, instructed the Service Group Executive;

1) To work with the National Executive Council to ensure that guidance and support is provided to branches to recruit and organise agency workers.

2) To ensure that branches are provided, as part of this guidance, with guidance on the legal status of members who are agency employees.

Conference notes there has been a large increase in the number of social care workers employed directly by a disabled person through the use of direct payments. These workers are entitled to decent pay and conditions and the right to join and be supported by a trade union.

Conference believes that there is an urgent need to address the needs of workers on atypical contracts. Our members and potential members who are term time workers, agency workers and others working on atypical contracts cannot wait any longer for action.

Conference therefore instructs the SGE;

a.To continue to provide and update guidance to branches to assist in the recruitment and organisation of workers on atypical contracts, including use of the Regional Pool to develop and generalise good practice, drawing upon existing work such as that undertaken in the Greater London Region;

b.To work with the NEC to ensure that branches receive regular guidance on the legal status of members who are on atypical contracts;

c.To identify and publicise to branches examples of good practice in reducing the use of agency workers and increasing permanent employment, such as the significant reduction achieved in the use of agency workers by Lambeth Council;

d.To support positive steps to improve the position of workers on atypical contracts such as The Temporary Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Bill, and to call upon the NEC, UNISON Labour Link and the General Political Fund Committee to give a high priority to supporting such measures; produce recruitment material aimed at workers employed through direct payments as part of a recruitment and organising strategy.

f.To call upon the NEC to work with UNISON Labour Link to lobby for an end to the UK Government’s opposition to proposed EU legislation giving temporary workers rights to the same terms and conditions as permanent staff;

g.To continue to campaign for fair treatment for term time only workers working with the NEC and other Service Groups as appropriate. This includes supporting branches in local campaigns to fight employers who seek to introduce and impose term time only conditions where they do not currently exist.