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To: Secretary of State For Business & Skills, Sajid Javid MP

Don’t let employers use agency temps to break strikes

Don’t let employers use agency temps to break strikes

Don't overturn the current ban on employers using agency staff to fill the jobs of workers who take strike action. It would compromise the fundamental right to strike and risk the safety of temp workers and the wider public.

Why is this important?

One of the most harmful proposals in the Government’s trade union reform plan is overturning the longstanding ban on using agency temp workers to break strikes.

Allowing employers to use agency workers in this way would undermine all workers. The right to withdraw your labour, a right agreed across the democratic world, becomes almost meaningless if protesting workers can be replaced at the drop of a hat.

Agency temps, often young workers, may feel pressured or misled into entering a stressful situation by taking on the jobs of striking workers.

Using less qualified temps to cover for experienced staff in jobs from lorry driving or working heavy machinery through to our essential public services could risk their own safety as well as that of the wider public. And there could be an impact on quality of services if delivered by less experienced staff.

If bad employers can draft in low paid temporary workers to break strikes, it will only drag down pay and working conditions for workers right across the economy. Fewer workers will be willing to stand up for themselves when faced with injustice at work if they know they can simply be replaced.

Strikes aren't common (they're at a historically low rate), but they're an important last resort for workers when their employer is acting unfairly and won't negotiate. This measure puts all the power in the employment relationship into the hands of the employer. In the long term nobody wins.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid will be putting his plans to a vote in September, alongside the Trade Union Bill. Let's send him a signal that British workers value the right to strike if they need to, and don't want to see it undermined in this way.

Reasons for signing

  • It is a human right to withdraw your labour. People are not slaves
  • Trade Unions are their to protect us, the right to strike when you're being ill-treated is a form of non-violent civil protest! Don't let this Tory Government abolish this right!
  • By using temps it allows them to exploit workers


2015-09-15 19:27:48 +0100

We're seeing more and more people and organisations speak out against the trade union bill, and against this measure in particular. The latest to come out against it is the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), the professional body for UK recruitment agencies, who have consulted their members and found little support. Kate Shoesmith, head of policy at the REC said it could jeopardise their duty of care to their agency workers: “We are not convinced that putting agencies and temporary workers into the middle of difficult industrial relations situations is a good idea for agencies, workers or their clients”. Read more at:

2015-09-11 09:41:05 +0100

Urgent action! Have you written to your MP about this yet? They're debating the trade union bill on Monday and it's a crucial opportunity for MPs to speak out, and to make government MPs realise the strength of opposition to these proposals. Please send a message to your MP now at:

2015-08-20 14:58:05 +0100

20,000 signatures reached

2015-08-12 08:51:59 +0100

5,000 signatures reached

2015-08-11 11:44:37 +0100

The photo at the top of this petition is from a 2013 strike by Hovis workers, protesting a rise in insecure zero hours agency work at the Wigan bakery. They won, and things have improved a lot there now - employed positions are used by default rather than agency, and agency temps have better pay and rights to stop undercutting and divisions in the workforce. It's a great result for the workers and for Wigan, but it's exactly the kind of thing that could become impossible if this harmful change is allowed.
Read more about their story here:

2015-08-10 17:20:05 +0100

1,000 signatures reached

2015-08-10 16:50:47 +0100

500 signatures reached

2015-08-10 16:38:20 +0100

100 signatures reached

2015-08-10 16:37:16 +0100

50 signatures reached

2015-08-10 16:36:47 +0100

25 signatures reached

2015-08-10 16:36:06 +0100

10 signatures reached