Brown seeks progress on agency workers' rights

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Indy Politics

The Prime Minister told union leaders today that he wants to make progress on rights for 1.4 million agency workers during talks aimed at diffusing a growing row over the need for new legislation.

Gordon Brown met senior union officials for an hour in Downing Street, suggesting how to break deadlock over the issue.

The meeting followed strong support by Labour MPs for a Private Member's Bill aimed at giving new rights to pay and conditions for temporary and agency workers. One union leader at the meeting said there had been a "very strong" exchange of views.

Unions are pressing for legislation and have given a lukewarm reaction to an idea by Mr Brown that a commission should be set up to examine the arguments for and against measures to tackle abuses of staff employed through agencies or those on temporary contracts.

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, said after the meeting: "The Prime Minister made it clear he wants to make progress. He has made some suggestions about the way forward and we will be looking at those.

"We are not prepared to see this issue kicked into the long grass."

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, said unions were "highly sceptical" about the integrity of any commission which included representatives from business groups which have argued strongly against any new laws.

"The Prime Minister is committed to dealing with this issue and he has given a commitment to take action," he said.

"But we are not convinced that the commission is the way forward. He did not rule out legislation and he accepts that something has to be done."