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Staff who work at temp agencies

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Steven.'s picture
Steven.
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May 14 2011 18:13
Staff who work at temp agencies

Split from Office Angels week of action thread

Jim Clarke wrote:
MT wrote:
MT wrote:
Jim Clarke wrote:
We've not been offering this to Office Angels employees as they're role in society is fundamentally exploitative if they're working in recruitment, but as modern workers trapped at desks like many of us we would offer you all the support we can. Guess things must be as shit for you as they are for us!

Could you explain what you mean by this? especially the last sentence is confusing as I dont know if by "you" you mean the agency workers or the agency employees/clerks.
thanks.

any chance of getting response?

That was addressed to the workers in the PR agency that has Adecco as a client. We've not offered any support to the employees/clerks for Office Angels or Adecco because their role in society is to hire and fire workers. We have been asking all along for the temporary workers at Office Angels to get in touch but with little success, hopefully this victory will help.

bricolage wrote:
Jim Clarke wrote:
That was addressed to the workers in the PR agency that has Adecco as a client. We've not offered any support to the employees/clerks for Office Angels or Adecco because their role in society is to hire and fire workers. We have been asking all along for the temporary workers at Office Angels to get in touch but with little success, hopefully this victory will help.

I think this is true to some degree but then everyone agency job I've ever lost has been because the company that I was working for has terminated (or not renewed) the contract, not the agency. The agency wants to keep you on there as much as possible because they keep getting a cut of it. Come to think of it I'm not actually sure if agencies can even withdraw one of their staff from a company they are employed to without that company initiating it, or at the very very least agreeing to it.

Steven. wrote:
Yeah, the job of people at temp agencies is not to hire and fire but match employees with companies which hire and fire. You've got that bit the wrong way round Jim.
Jim Clarke wrote:
Maybe manage the exploitation of workers would have been a better way of saying it then

what does that mean?

Quote:
either way I still wouldn't want to support recruitment agents in struggle.

so if they had their pay cut and they went on strike you would be against them?? On what basis?

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
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May 14 2011 19:05

Recruitment agents don't hire or fire people. Companies needing staff send details to the agency, the agency goes through their pool of workers and picks a few relevant candidates and sends them to the company. The company then chooses the one they want, hires them and terminates the contract when they no longer need them.

Temps and recruitment agents alike are both exploited by the agency, and have the same common interest against their employer like anyone else.

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May 14 2011 21:04

Yeah, I'm with Steven on this one. Agents who work for employment agencies are just that: employees. I would gladly support and agent who was getting screwed and would be glad to have a situation where agents were organized alongside agency workers.

MT
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May 14 2011 21:22

There's no hire and fire in what you say Jim and that's the end of the argument I would say. We should be careful not to mix subjective/emotional aspects with aspects of class basis of capitalism. World is full of working class cunts, so what? Being a dick can't lead us to base our class analysis on moral judgements.

MT
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May 14 2011 21:32

The response to your original post came because we a dilemma concerning latest anti-OTTO action (don't want to go into it much), so it was a coincidence and your post was unclear in what is your position and thanks to your answer the result is this debate, which is fine because it is an important dilemma and we can share our ideas based on our actions and ideas that come out of them.

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May 14 2011 23:46
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
Fair enough, I'm not going to actively try and support recruitment agents but will reconsider it if it ever comes up again. It would have been good if people had expressed these views during the campaign as we could have incorporated them into what we were doing.

you could reconsider it now, as you were clearly mistaken. It seems bizarre to only think about challenging a mistaken idea if a similar campaign comes up again in the future

Some agency controllers are terrible, but then so are some dole workers, that doesn't change their class position. A couple of mine were annoying, but a couple were quite helpful to me, made sure I got paid, helped me get statutory sick pay, etc. But either way your personal experiences don't determine someone's class position

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May 14 2011 23:57

Having been a recruitment agent myself, I wouldn't say that it's so cut and dried. Jim has a point in that agents are drawn into a collaborationist role with the client, I wouldn't be so quick to just poo-poo him...

MT
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May 15 2011 08:49
Tarwater wrote:
Having been a recruitment agent myself, I wouldn't say that it's so cut and dried. Jim has a point in that agents are drawn into a collaborationist role with the client, I wouldn't be so quick to just poo-poo him...

And who isn't?

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May 15 2011 09:42
MT wrote:
Tarwater wrote:
Having been a recruitment agent myself, I wouldn't say that it's so cut and dried. Jim has a point in that agents are drawn into a collaborationist role with the client, I wouldn't be so quick to just poo-poo him...

And who isn't?

Diddo, speaking as an education worker...

no1
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May 15 2011 10:08
Tarwater wrote:
Having been a recruitment agent myself, I wouldn't say that it's so cut and dried. Jim has a point in that agents are drawn into a collaborationist role with the client, I wouldn't be so quick to just poo-poo him...

Yes but does a recruitment agent derive any actual personal power from that role? Like, does that role come with special privileges in the same way being a boss comes with special privileges? Do they get more money than they would otherwise? Are workers going to treat them with more respect, are workers going to be more guarded about what they say in their presence, are they more likely to laugh if a recruitment agent makes a crap joke ?
I think the answer is no, and the reason for that is that they don't hire and fire, they just match applicants with agency client companies.

Mike Harman
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May 15 2011 14:30
Steven. wrote:
Recruitment agents don't hire or fire people. Companies needing staff send details to the agency, the agency goes through their pool of workers

I think this counts as 'hiring' - to get on the books at the agency, you have to give them your CV etc., I remember having to do typing tests at the agency, provide references and possibly other crap too. I don't think there's any difference between the agency screening employees before they get to the actual company, compared to someone working in an HR department doing it.

That doesn't necessarily mean that every employee at a temp agency have the power to hire (nor that people doing admin jobs in HR departments necessarily do). However there are valid reasons to be extra careful with people who are in a supervisory or HR role. They have the power to 'not hire' - and it's not like someone who might get asked to look over candidates who they're going to end up working with once in a blue moon, it's a central part of their role.

There's also a chance that at least some of the workers at Office Angels are temps themselves - the first ever agency I applied to when I had barely any work experience, gave me a job doing filing in their office (for £5.50/hour) until a 'real' placement came in - this never actually happened because a placement came in the next day. But had I ended up doing that for a week or to, I'd definitely not have been in a role exploiting the other temps who worked for them.

Quote:
Temps and recruitment agents alike are both exploited by the agency

yes.

Quote:
, and have the same common interest against their employer

Not necessarily day-to-day - otherwise there wouldn't be any need for a campaign which is partly based on calling up low-level office workers and arguing with them over wage theft. There are similar issues with places like Brighthouse, benefits workers, bailiffs - some aspects of the role really are fundamentally engaged in the exploitation and/or discipline of workers. But yeah I agree a blanket dismissal of any worker in the industry is taking this too far the other way.

MT
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May 15 2011 14:58

the "not hire" perspective is interesting but where does it lead us to? There may be occasions when you are going to get a new colleague. the role of the HR clerk or agency employee is to get you you the most suitable colleague (I know this is a bit ideal view of their job, but let's try to simplify it). now, let's imagine you end up with a cunt you aren't able to work with. this basically means you wish this person was "not hired". My point is, these people are clerks following tables, forms and other formal documentation and needs of the bosses. You finally may get NOT hired by a computer based on a score in tests, you know. So how do we interpret this? That the clerk is the enemy who decided we are not suitable for the needs of the capital?

Also, the "hire and/or fire" consists of several options:
- hire
- hire and fire
- hire or fire
- fire

And the problem starts to show when we are not sure why exactly we follow of of these four. And usually thus starts to show in practice when different people approach us asking for help. For example, we had a worker whose job was to run the magazine with other contributors. She was in a position to find the people who could take part in contribution to the magazine with her. So she could hire the way "I know this person is good and can get this job so I will tell the owner to hire him". So who is the real "hirer" here? But what I consider of more importance is that the magazine worked in a specific way concerning firing of the workers. It was the task of the owner and the woman to communicate whom to fire. After a long debate with many problematic aspects we decided she is in a position to hire and fire and refused to engage in her problem (related to her wage not being risen for 3 years).

No matter if we did good or bad conclusion, the thing is that "hire and fire" formula is tricky and I feel many times is taken for granted without seriously discussing its content. For me, the key aspect is the "fire", not "hire" and I would say even hes the "not hire". However, I consider discussion on this very vital and practical in fact.

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May 15 2011 15:11
Quote:
Having been a recruitment agent myself, I wouldn't say that it's so cut and dried. Jim has a point in that agents are drawn into a collaborationist role with the client, I wouldn't be so quick to just poo-poo him...

And who isn't?

Yes, obviously.

Quote:
Yes but does a recruitment agent derive any actual personal power from that role? Like, does that role come with special privileges in the same way being a boss comes with special privileges? Do they get more money than they would otherwise? Are workers going to treat them with more respect, are workers going to be more guarded about what they say in their presence, are they more likely to laugh if a recruitment agent makes a crap joke ?
I think the answer is no, and the reason for that is that they don't hire and fire, they just match applicants with agency client companies.

Actually, the answer is yes. What is the point of not being fired only to sit on the register and never work? There is never a shortage of temp staff though, so really even the slightest imagined offense to an agent could start some gossip through the office that would lead to said staff member being unofficially blacklisted, People were rarely fired where I was employed, mostly just ignored till they gave up and disappeared. People got the best jobs and reviews through a combination of demonstrated ability and interpersonal relationships with the office staff.

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May 16 2011 09:18

I don't know how it works in the UK, but in the US, the majority of my employment during my life has been through temp agencies. There are countless different ones, too. The ones that merely screen applicants and leave the individual picking and choosing to the client company are usually white collar or higher end skilled jobs, and then not even all of them. 'Lower skilled' jobs the client company has little to do with you being hired, most of the time they just give some broad guidelines and standards and call the temp agency requesting people who meet them periodically. The first interaction whether on paper, computer or in person that you have is when you show up the first day. In any case, you're employed by the temp agencies, NOT the client, as far as the law is concerned.

And yes, temp staff do have the power to hire and fire. They have the power to choose to call you or not for a job. The power to set their own standards for screening*. There's no question they are employers. Is the receptionist? No. But the case managers are.

* - I worked in a large warehouse once that had 4-5 different temp agencies supplying them workers. 1 temp agency in particular had their own screening standards on criminal records that the others didn't have and that the client company itself didn't have for the regular employees, much less the temps. This higher standard didn't get the person any extra money, it just required them to have to go through one of the other agencies. There are tons of these companies with their own standards and policies that have nothing to do with the client companies. Another one I almost went through, docked your whole week's pay down to minimum wage if you missed a day or were late more than 3 minutes twice in a week. I don't know what you guys call that, but someone with the power to alter my wages is definitely an employer to me.

MT
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May 16 2011 09:36

sorry, I am confused, the the debate is not whether the agency is an employer de jure or even de facto, but it is about "Staff who work at temp agencies". so say the staff are in the position of employers and should be considered an enemy of the workers because of their position in the capitalist system?

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May 16 2011 09:54
MT wrote:
sorry, I am confused, the the debate is not whether the agency is an employer de jure or even de facto, but it is about "Staff who work at temp agencies". so say the staff are in the position of employers and should be considered an enemy of the workers because of their position in the capitalist system?

Well the temp agency isn't a mythical being of nothingness. It's made up of people, staff, which some of them carry out the functions of an employer. Or can a temp agency be your employer but no staff that works for them be your employer?

MT
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May 16 2011 09:58

every company has a staff fulfilling the interest of the employer, so I am really lost what you're trying to say...

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May 16 2011 10:26

I am saying that I consider staff (particularity case managers) as employers and therefore enemies. I would not support any struggle they would happen to initiate (highly unlikely in any case).

MT
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May 16 2011 10:36

When speaking about "staff" I believe we are not speaking about managers (although they are employees as well). The whole debate is about clerks. Or isn't it? I am kinda confused now. Or case manager is a kind of a desk clerk taking phone calls and talking with applicants and filling applications with them?

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May 16 2011 11:19

i don't know exactly how it works. from my experiences working through agencies for 5 years, i get the impression recruitment agents are on a basic salary topped up heavily with bonusses/commissions for placing people. they have workers assigned to them who they then try and place, and get a kickback for doing so. that's probably similar to estate agents who get commissions on property sales, all working for the same firm but competing with each other to find people/properties to sell and clients to sell them too. so that would make them brokers of labour power i guess.

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May 16 2011 16:58
Joseph Kay wrote:
i don't know exactly how it works. from my experiences working through agencies for 5 years, i get the impression recruitment agents are on a basic salary topped up heavily with bonusses/commissions for placing people. they have workers assigned to them who they then try and place, and get a kickback for doing so. that's probably similar to estate agents who get commissions on property sales, all working for the same firm but competing with each other to find people/properties to sell and clients to sell them too. so that would make them brokers of labour power i guess.

so basically their role is akin to that of the trade unions!

Harrison
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May 16 2011 17:53

i think it has always been the case that there have been hierarchies within the working class. i would still consider a low-level manager a member of the working class. it is perhaps the most ingenious invention of the capitalists to get the workers to exploit themselves. I think in the daily class struggle, their role is more than a little murky as they are proletarian agents acting consciously on behalf of capital. Anarchist unions or federations therefore shouldn't allow people from this managerial sub-strata of the proletariat to join, because they play greater roles in the running of capitalism than they have too... (ie. everyone has to work, but no one is forcing you to climb the career ladder) However, come the rev, there is no reason to turn these workers away if they are prepared to give up their (slight) privilege and join the fight for lib com.

As a practical example, someone a few years older than me (in their 20s) latched on to the opportunity to become a manager in the recent restructuring of my library. Although I previously thought he was an alright guy, i now consider him to be a sneaky little shit due to a few incidents concerning my labour time when he has operated on behalf of capital.