Back in May, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) held a ‘National Temporary Workers Week'. In reality, this was a propaganda exercise promoting the casualisation of work. In response, the Bristol Against Casualisation Campaign (BACC) held a series of counterevents under the title ‘Opposing Temporary Work Week'. BACC is a group of workers and trade unionists who have been organising against casualisation for the past three years or so.
During the week, there was the showing of ‘A Job to Win' at the Cube Cinema, Bristol. The event was co-hosted with the International Solidarity Movement and was introduced by a representative from BACC, who linked the part played by agencies in exploiting migrant labourers in Palestine with the role of agencies in promoting temporary work in the UK. The film was followed by a discussion that highlighted the growing exploitation of migrant workers in the UK, and how to forge solidarity with them.
Also, the Randstad employment agency outlet in Bristol city centre was leafleted. There was a good reception from the agency workers, but not so good from Randstad staff, who complained it was ‘inappropriate' to give out such leaflets outside their premises. The leafletters replied that, as Randstad are involved in casualising the labour market, it was totally appropriate.
Then the focus shifted to London, where there was a “Cider and Pork Scratching Reception” (veggie option available) at Parliament Square. Five people from BACC plus a camera crew confronted agency representatives as they queued up to enter Parliament, shouting .We are all one in a million. (reference to the prize presented by the REC to the .Temporary Worker of the Year) & ‘Remember Simon Jones' (reference to Simon, a casual worker who was killed due to his employers' negligence). Banners were unfurled reading: ‘Casualisation Kills' & ‘999,999 agency workers ask - Gerry Sutcliffe MP, Who the f*** are you?'
Then there was the picket of Manpower, Britain's largest employer of agency staff and the world's second largest agency - a symbol of the growth in job insecurity and poverty pay. Over 500 leaflets were distributed and Manpower staff were indignant that anyone should challenge their right to exploit and locked the door, but not before providing demonstrators with a copy of the TGWU publicity that they provide to new staff. The T&G is apparently proud to work in partnership with Manpower, and BACC is proud to oppose their role in promoting the casualisation of work.
At the weekend, was the ‘Fight Temporary Work Conference' at Easton Community Centre in Bristol. The sessions included a talk on ‘flexploitation', and discussion ranged from the proposed legislation on ‘gangmasters' through the nature of campaigning (targeting the state?), onto the role of the unions. Other presentations included ‘Fighting Casualisation', with information on the ‘Workmates Collective' operating on London Underground; ‘McDonalds Workers Resistance', and individual strategies for surviving on benefits and agency work. Another thing discussed was something to look out for soon - a short film on ‘Casualisation in Bristol'.