Comments made this week by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn concerning the alleged “unscrupulous” use of agency labour have come under fire from recruitment trade bodies.
During Mr Corbyn’s speech in Peterborough on Tuesday, he pledged that a future Labour Government would abolish the “unscrupulous use of agency labour and bogus self-employment” and ensure that all workers have secure jobs with secure pay.
However, according to Recruitment and Employment Confederation CEO Kevin Green, Mr Corbyn’s remarks were misleading. Mr Green said: “Jeremy Corbyn’s attempt to re-imagine himself as the UK’s Donald Trump appears to include the original’s loose relationship with the truth.”
Mr Green took issue with Mr Corbyn’s assertion during the speech that some recruiters were withholding jobs from local people and discriminating on the basis of nationality. In his remarks, Mr Green was forthright: no such practises exist, as under law, all available job opportunities must be advertised in English and in the UK.
Samantha Hurley, Operations Director at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies, went further, stating: “The recruitment profession’s ability to attract and supply professional talent continues to contribute to the success of UK plc, and such sweeping comments are misrepresentative of the important role of the profession.”
She added: “We will, of course, continue to engage with the Labour Party. I hope that in future they will acknowledge the differences between the professional recruitment sector and lower-paid, potentially vulnerable workers.”
Ms Hurley was implicitly referring to high-end contracting professionals, such as skilled Umbrella Company Employees, who have positively chosen to work on a flexible basis and ought not to be lumped in with low-skilled contingent workers, who may indeed need additional employment protections. She described the Labour leader’s remarks as “quite simply incorrect.”
The Chair of the Association of Recruitment Consultancies (ARC), Adrian Marlowe, also rounded on My Corbyn’s assertion of widespread unscrupulous use of agency labour amongst recruiters, a remark that he could not accept. There was, he said, a clear need for temporary labour in the UK because requirements for staff expand and contract. Recruitment agencies exist to meet that requirement, he continued, adding: “I am sure all our members agree that rogue agencies, such as there are, should be eradicated.”
The Director General of the Institute of Recruiters, Azmat Mohammed, also responded by describing Mr Corbyn’s comments as “unfair and inaccurate.” He said: “Agency labour costs are set by a free market and demand, while regulation is already gold plated.
“Recruiters provide essential agency staff in flexible markets and work hard to meet all their client and candidate obligations. Without them many industries would suffer.”