Thousands of Wigan employees are in temporary jobs

Thousands of Wigan employees are in temporary jobs, with trade union leaders warning they may be missing out on crucial workplace rights.
TUC General secretary Frances OGradyTUC General secretary Frances OGrady
TUC General secretary Frances OGrady

New estimates from the Office of National Statistics show that 6,500 people in Wigan are employed in non-permanent jobs. They include fixed-term contracts and agency, casual or seasonal work.

That’s five per cent of employees in the area , the same as the average across the UK.

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According to the Trade Union Congress, temporary workers are part of a larger group of people in “precarious work”.

The TUC estimates that one in nine UK workers are in precarious work, including staff on zero-hours contracts and self-employed people making less than minimum wage.

General secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Lack of reliable income is not the only problem for people in this type of work.

“Insecure workers too often miss out on important rights like sick pay, parental leave or paid holidays. The Government should give all workers the same basic rights.”

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Gail Cartmail, assistant general secretary at trade union Unite, said the truth about insecure work in the UK is “far worse” than the official figures show.

She said: “Increasing numbers of workers are being forced into toxic, precarious, non-permanent employment, making it impossible to plan for their future and always fearful of dismissal.

“These figures don’t include the hundreds of thousands of workers who are forced into bogus self-employment, where they have all the characteristics of an employee but none of the rights.”

Research by the TUC found that the UK’s gig economy workforce has doubled since 2016. Nearly one in 10 adults are now working for app-based companies, such as Uber and Deliveroo, at least once a week.

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Gig economy workers are currently classed as self-employed. As a result, they are not entitled to sick pay, paid holidays or annual leave.

The majority of these workers have multiple jobs, and use platform work to supplement other forms of income.

Although there is no data on how many people in Wigan are in gig economy jobs, 15 per cent of workers are self-employed, and one per cent have second jobs.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the Government’s Good Work Plan will improve the rights of temporary and gig economy workers.

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It includes scrapping a legal loophole which enables some firms to pay agency workers less than permanent staff.

A BEIS spokesperson said: “We have a labour market we can be proud of, with more people in work than ever before.

“We are committed to ensuring the labour market works for everyone, and we’re the first country in the world to address modern working practices.”