BMW management at Cowley should feel lucky they were pelted only with fruit when they sacked 850 agency workers with just one hour's notice this morning. Angry staff could easily have taken tools and car components to them instead.
New Labour seem genuinely proud that workers in Britain are among the easiest to hire and fire in the EU, and staff employed through job agencies are easier still. These workers do qualify for the minimum wage and are covered by workplace health and safety and anti-discrimination legislation. But that's your lot. Agency workers cannot claim unfair dismissal nor are they entitled to redundancy or notice of termination. In effect, they are second class workers.
The callous scenes at Cowley are unlikely to be a one off. According to the BBC, 1.4 million people are employed by agencies in the UK. Thats an awful lot of workers bosses can quickly dump with a minimum of fuss.
Just goes to show what's good for business is often crap for workers.
Sort-of-related plug: A collection of Socialist Party articles on the car industry here.
Edited to add: It was actually the local union representatives who earned the ire of the workers. According to C4 news, Unite knew about the job losses before Christmas, but BMW had asked them to keep mum. Small wonder one interviewed worker said the union was in management's pocket. Who can blame her if she doesn't sign up to a union in the future?