ICEM CONTRACT & AGENCY LABOUR CAMPAIGN
2 CONTRACT AND AGENCY LABOUR, A DESCRIPTION2.1 > WHICH WORKERS OR SECTORS ARE MOSTLY AFFECTED?2.2 > TRICKS2.3 > MAIN PROBLEMS CAUSED
3 A FEW FACTS AND FIGURES
4 THE ICEM CAMPAIGN AND PROJECT
5 THE LEGAL ANGLE5.1 > NATIONAL LAWS, RULES AND REGULATIONS5.1.1 > ASIA/PACIFIC5.1.2 > AFRICA5.1.3 > LATIN AMERICA5.1.4 > NORTH AMERICA5.1.5 > WESTERN AND NORTHERN EUROPE5.1.6 > CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE5.1.7 > MIDDLE EAST AND NORTHERN AFRICA 5.2 > INTERNATIONAL REGULATION5.2.1 > ILO5.2.2 > THE DRAFT EU DIRECTIVE ON TEMPORARY AGENCY WORK5.2.3 > OTHER INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS
6 THE COMPANY ANGLE 6.1 > THE NATIONAL LEVEL 6.1.1 > COLLECTIVE BARGAINING6.1.2 > ORGANISING 6.1.3 > WORKING WITH PRIVATE EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES6.1.4 > ASIA/PACIFIC6.1.5 > AFRICA6.1.6 > EUROPE6.1.7 > THE AMERICAS6.2 > THE INTERNATIONAL LEVEL 6.2.1 > COLLECTIVE BARGAINING6.2.2 > MULTINATIONAL ENTERPRISES AND GLOBAL FRAMEWORK AGREEMENTS (GFAs)
7 TRADE UNION APPROACHES AND STRATEGIES7.1 > EUROPE7.2 > ASIA/PACIFIC7.3 > AFRICA7.4 > THE AMERICAS
8 EFFORTS BY OTHER GUFs
4ICEM GUIDE ON CONTRACT AND AGENCY LABOUR 2008
CONTRACTING OUT, SLOWLY BUT SURELY, HAS BECOME A PROBLEM FOR MANY, IF NOT MOST, WORKERS IN THE WORLD. IT AFFECTS NEAR-LY ALL OF THEM, IN DIFFERENT REGIONS , DIFFERENT SECTORS AND DIFFERENT LINES OF WORK. FOR THIS REASON, THE ICEM HAS BEEN RUNNING A CAMPAIGN - FOR QUITE SOME TIME NOW AIMING TO IMPROVE WORKING CONDITIONS FOR CONTRACT AND AGENCY LABOUR WORKERS, IN ADDITION TO MAKING SURE THAT JOBS RE-MAIN, OR BECOME, DIRECT AND PERMANENT.
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From refineries in Cte DIvoire to mines in Colombia, from the energy sector in Serbia to the glass workers in Turkey, from India to Western Europe, from Australia to the US, people have seen their jobs disappear to sub-contract-ing companies that usually employ workers at inferior conditions. In other cases, jobs have been terminated, with work being taken over by workers sent in by agencies or on short-term contracts. Numerous new ways of em-ployment, most of them precarious, have been invented and used.
This is one area of business where there is no discrimination: Outsourc-ing through contract and agency labour (CAL) affects the blue collar mine workers in developing countries just as much as the white collar workers in the high-tech biotechnology business in OECD countries. In fact, it could be said that this is one phenomenon that has, to a large extent, spread from the south to the north, instead of the other way around, like most management techniques.
It has also spread from a relatively limited number of sectors - it always was a problem for migrants in the construction sector, for example - to all industries, affecting jobs that were considered safe, such as core jobs in the chemical industry. While still varying from sector to sector, the use of contract labour seems to have a dominant presence in all of the sectors that the ICEM deals with. Even to the extent that a number of ICEM affiliates have declared the need to deal with the explosion in the use of contract and agency labour as their number one priority.
ICEM affiliates all over the world have had to come to terms with the new strategy of companies, and some governments, to employ two categories of employees: core workers, who receive relatively good employment conditions on the one hand, and contract or agency workers, or workers in other pre-carious jobs, on the other, with the latter usually getting the inferior deal. In most cases, this means getting less pay, or less pension, or less medical or sickness benefits, or less paid holidays, or less job security, or or . In many cases, it means a combination of all or several of these things.
At first - for some of us already a very long time ago - subcontracting was mainly used for those workers that were considered non-essential. Typi-cal examples included cleaning, IT, security or catering. More recently, and throughout the different ICEM sectors, contract and agency labour has become increasingly common as a method to also employ workers that are considered to be working in core areas of the enterprises, performing core jobs.
Contract and agency labour is used by companies in their search for lower costs almost everywhere. Decisions are made based on purely economic arguments. Once the decision is taken and the problem dealt with, many companies dont seem to care too much about what happens to their for-
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mer workers. We dont pay them, they dont work for us, we dont have any responsibility to make sure they get treated right.
Workers in these situations are often vulnerable and exploited. The wide-spread consequences of contract or agency labour include that it, at that point, becomes much more difficult for workers to defend themselves, individually as well as through their trade unions, and that hard won social standards are often lost.
Trade unions are losing a lot of members because of this phenomenon. A key reason is that workers are more easily intimidated when they are in a precarious employment position. While preparing for this guide, the ICEM has come across very many examples where precarious workers are just too scared to join a trade union. Often for good reason, as too many contract and agency labour workers have been confronted with colleagues who have been put aside because they were interested in union activities.
This is even more of a danger where there is no well-described employ-ment relationship to speak of, or where it becomes a difficult issue to even identify the employer or the respective responsibilities of different, linked employers. In addition, many CAL workers shift jobs regularly, making it more difficult to establish enough of a stake in the job to develop a close relationship with the union at the company.
The same work status and lack of a future in a job that affects the involve-ment in trade union activity can also create problems for companies. Precar-ious employment often robs workers of their motivation, and of any loyalty to the company they might have (which after all, shows no loyalty to them). Real worker investment in a job is unlikely to come from just in time workers. The growing precariousness of work should therefore also be a con-cern for management in terms of quality, turnover, competence and produc-tivity, and employers should welcome joint discussions and progress through negotiations that will make both the company and trade union stronger.
Contracting out has become almost a herd mentality, a stifling form of conformity. Everyone is doing it, so it must be the right thing to do. It has been successful, among other reasons, because of the perceived advantage for the employer, who is said to be able to continue to make a product or a service, without having to take responsibility for the workforce that makes the product or creates the service. It is assumed that, next to having less responsibility for workers, it is also cheaper. However, in many cases, the business case is not all that clear. Experience on the ground often contra-dicts this belief.
Clearly, contract and agency labour is also used in many cases to do away with union influence. Quite often, employers are willing to pay for that,
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including through, for example, huge redundancy fees, or extensive early retirement payments, in the knowledge - or belief - that it will guarantee them a more docile workforce afterwards.
Of course, there are workers who enjoy temping or working with a lot of flexibility, allowing them - to a certain extent to decide when they work and when they dont. And there is nothing wrong with that. The problem is that, in our experience, most CAL workers around the world are absolutely not in that situation. On the contrary, in many countries and industries, a lot of workers seem to be facing the choice between a precarious job or no job at all.
This guide is written to assist all trade unionists, whether they are work-ing at plant, local, regional, national or international level, with their daily work on contract and agency labour.
Many of the methods and practices that were used elsewhere may be adapted successfully to your situation. It is hoped that the best practice examples from around the world, including at the legal and at the international level, can serve as departure points for good ideas and actions at home, wherever you are, helping all to solve a few - and hopefully more - contract, agency and other precarious work problems.
Manfred WardaICEM General SecretarySeptember 2008
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ICEM GUIDE ON CONTRACT AND AGENCY LABOUR 2008
THE HOUSING OF THE PERMANENT WORKERS APPEARED GOOD. I ALSO OBSERVED THE HOMES OF CONTRACT WORKERS WHICH WERE GRASS HUTS (LESS THAN TWO METERS FROM THE DIRT FLOOR TO THE CEILING AND WITH-OUT SANITATION, WATER OR ELECTRICITY) . THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE LIVING CONDITIONS OF UNION WORKERS WITH PERMA-NENT JOBS AND CONTRACT WORK-ERS CAN BE MEASURED IN CENTU-RIES.
(FROM A MISSION REPORT BY JOE DREXLER, THE ICEM MINING INDUSTRY OFFICER, AFTER A 2007 VISIT TO INDIA)
ICEM GUIDE ON CONTRACT AND AGENC