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Insights into UK manufacturing

That's clear then..or not.

Steven Coventry September 15, 2009 16:43

The brothers and sisters at the TUC have been getting themselves exercised this week about when and how the government intends to implement the forthcoming Agency Workers Directive. 

Many in the trade union movement are desperate to get the proposal introduced, and in effect, before next year's general election in order to make it impossible for any future Conservative government to water down or even repeal it.

However, if they were hoping for some clarity on the matter when the Prime Minister stood up to address the TUC congress today, they may have been disappointed. 

Instead, he merely pledged to get the proposal onto the statute book before the end of the current parliament, with no mention of when it would actually come into force. 

This may sound like a matter of semantics, but it is an important point. 

The legislation will make it harder and costlier for employers to use agency workers to respond to increased demand at the very time when a recovery could be taking place.  Instead EEF has argued that the government should use the full implementation period (up to October 2011) before bringing these measures into force.  This would then allow the upturn to take hold, as well as giving companies the maximum time to adjust to the new requirements.

Of course, regardless of what the Prime Minister did, or didn't, say today it doesn't mean that the government wont go for early implementation - but this was hardly the definitive statement that the trade unions might have been looking for.   (Nor, in truth, has it provided the certainty that, for better or worse, would help business prepare for these changes.) 

For that we will probably have to wait till early next year, and after the results of a formal consultation this Autumn, when hopefully the government’s intentions will become a little clearer. 


This is an informal blog about manufacturing and the economy written by EEF's policy and representation staff. While it is written from an EEF perspective, contributions should not be taken as formal statements of EEF policy, unless stated otherwise. Nor does it cover all the issues on which we campaign - you can check these out in more detail at our main site.

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