Saturday, 16 April 2022

The Power of Collective Grumbling

 I've recently signed up with an agency and started working in some local factories. I can't give details, but on my third day in one of them I had my first brush with industrial action I've had for a while. I arrived with my shift, put on the work gear, made my way to the clocking in station and waited with the rest of the shift, about 20 of us. One of the supervisors keeps glancing over at us, after five minutes of this he comes over after chattering away on a radio, he tells us there's no work for us to do, which did not go down well as we were all requested to arrive that day. We immediately march up to the on site office of our agency, and we cram in the tiny hallway outside. After five minutes of us loudly airing our discontent and grievances, one of the staff admins comes out and meekly requests we wait in the canteen next door. This we do, for about fifteen minutes, fraternising and agreeing how angry we all are.

Then he comes back and confirms that the shifts have been cancelled and would like us to right down our names to make sure we receive our pay for the hours we were allocated.

There are few advantages to agency work, but the agreements say you enter into an agreement with the agency, they provide work, and you accept that and do the work. We had been assigned our hours and turned up and were ready to go, so we fulfilled our half of the contract. So regardless of how much or little work we did, we were owed that much pay. But, just because that's what is written down in your agreements and documents, that doesn't mean they'll give you it if they think they can get away with it. So, anyone in a similar situation, I would advise not leaving and staying as a group until you have some guarantee. 

Friends have asked if that won't make them less likely to provide work for us in future. That is a possibility, but what's the point of working for a company that won't pay you? And if a company can get away with not paying you when it's supposed to in one situation, it will make sure to do the same in every other situation it can from that point on. Also, numbers are a good shield, agencies can provide hands to fill gaps in production and service roles, but they struggle to fill more than a handful of vacancies at short notice. 

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