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Employment law should allow agency workers to cover strike staffing gaps

By: Laura Nineham
15 October 2010

Employment legislation should be modernised to allow agency workers to cover staffing gaps during industrial action, reports The Recruiter. That's according to John Cridland, deputy director-general of the CBI, which published a report outlining measures that could modernise legislation to keep the economic recovery on track.

This is particularly timely because the Tube strikes in London caused chaos for commuters recently, which put extra strain on those in driving jobs as they tried to pick up the slack caused by the move, which mayor Boris Johnson described as holding the capital to ransom.

The recent two 24-hour strikes highlighted just how vital drivers are to the London economy, and if the legislation is changed it would allow agencies to employ agency workers to fill the extra driving jobs created as a result of industrial action, reducing the impact of the strike on commuters.

The CBI claims that 85% of private sector employees aren't members of any union, and that any changes they want to bring about in the workplace are usually discussed directly with staff or their representatives.

Mr Cridland explained that whilst workers have the legal right to withdraw their labour, "employers have a responsibility to run their businesses". He added: "The public increasingly expects it to be business as usual, even during a strike, so firms must be allowed to hire temps directly from an agency to provide emergency cover for striking workers."

This is particularly true when it comes to people in public transport striking, as it creates the demand for more temporary driving jobs in order to help people get around.

This is the latest in a string of calls to revise employment legislation, including the London mayor's calls to introduce legislation which would prevent strike action unless at least 50% of members take part in the ballot.

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