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Russian think-tank: neither workers nor employers benefit from agency labour

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16 June, 2012On April 20 the Center for Social and Labour Rights, a Moscow-based think-tank, presented the results of the research on ‘Agency Labour and its Effects on Workers’. Experts found that neither workers nor employers benefit from agency labour.

On April 20 the Center for Social and Labour Rights (CSLR), a Moscow-based think-tank, and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung presented the results of the research on ‘Agency Labour and its Effects on Workers’. About 60 representatives of trade unions, employers and the scientific community took part in the round table.

Petr Bizuykov, CSLR researcher, presented the results of the work. He described the key findings of the research team.

Key Findings

According to Bizuykov, despite the intention to find advantages of agency labour, none were discovered. This is true both for workers and for employers willing to establish a sustainable production, since the motivation and effectiveness of agency workers is low, while rates of workplace injuries are high.

Furthermore, Bizuykov stated that agency labour merely replaces stable permanent employment, despite the agencies’ claims that it is works as a bridge between unemployment and a stable job.

Mikhail Tarasenko, formerly a member of the IMF Executive Committee and a member of the Russian parliament, addressed the participants as an expert. He noted that the bill against agency labour passed the first hearing in the Russian parliament last year. A full-scale attack on the authors of the bill followed swiftly, as well as intensive lobbying of employment agencies’ interests with support of foreign associations of such agencies.

Tarasenko said that earlier unions in Western countries hoped that agency labour could be regulated by laws. Now they fight for a lower percentage of agency workers and support Russian unions’ initiative to ban agency labour altogether.

In their turn, Oleg Kulikov, president of the All-Russian Association of Employers in the Electric Industry, and Olga Bacekina, head of the Committee on Labour Issues of the Association of European Business in Russia, spoke of the necessity to legalize agency labour, since flexible work schedule is rather convenient for certain groups of workers, such as students, mothers with little children and intellectual and creative workers. They also claimed that agency work has become a prominent feature of Russian labour market, therefore it should be legalized.

Boris Kravchenko, president of the All-Russian Confederation of Labour, said that he hand’t heard any arguments for the introduction and legalization of agency labour, except the fact that it exists in reality. Corruption grew manifold in Russia recently, but this doesn’t constitute a reason for its legalization, claimed Kravchenko.

Vadim Borisov, IndustriALL representative for CIS countries, said:

"Employers make groundless claims that Western unions agree with legalization of agency labour, while in reality unions from all over the world take part in the IndustriALL campaign “STOP Precarious Work” and consider agency labour to undermine workers’ rights and conditions."

He added that the neoliberal economic model created the 1997 Asian crisis and the 2008 world crisis. It will reproduce situations of crisis again and again. Employers’ lobbying for agency labour is explained by the fact that they want to ensure the safety of their businesses in such situations and put the risks on the shoulders of workers.

CSLR published a book based on its research called ‘Agency Labour: Effects on Workers’.

The publication in Russian can be downloaded from the CSLR website http://trudprava.ru/files/pub/zaem-trud.pdf.