The staffing agency trade upsets working life's power balance
The labour market is becoming more and more mobile in all directions. Over the past few years an entirely new trade has quickly emerged, providing temporary staff to hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants, cleaning companies and to industry to mention a few. Sweden's trade unions movement is proud to have achieved a collective agreement for the staffing agency trade. Nordic Labour Journal has met employees and employers in several Nordic countries to find out how they adapt to this development, and we ask: In what way does the staffing agency trade challenge the Nordic labour markets?
From time to time 'The Great Debate" over the role of staffing agencies rolls out in the Nordic countries, despite the fact they provide a only a small percentage of the workforce. What makes this employment model appear to be a challenge to the Nordic model? 0.8 - 1.3 percent of the Nordic region's employable population are temporary workers, compared to the European avearage of 1.7 percent. By the end of this year the EU directive on temporary agency work must be implemented.
Are staffing agencies just one step on the road towards an even more flexible labour marked, where those performing services become their own employers? NHO Service, the employers' organisation for Norway's cleaning industry, is sounding the alarm over an increase in cleaning businesses from 2,000 to 6,500 over just a few years.
Trade unions believe the EU directive on temporary agency work will see fewer staffing agencies pushing down salaries and working conditions.
Staffing agencies in Sweden are experiencing a boom. In the last quarter of 2010 turnovers were up 42 percent on 2009 figures. Staffing agencies do however provoke conflicting feelings and staffing was one of the key themes during the latest collective bargaining process.