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The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is calling for better protection for the rights of temporary staff in the UK.

The TUC got YouGov to poll 2,700 people who have worked via an agency in the last year. The unions said the survey was likely to be skewed to better paid and higher skilled workers, and that lower paid agency staff were likely to be under-represented.

The poll found there were almost equal numbers of men and women working via agencies, exposing the stereotype of female secretarial staff being the agency mainstay.

Only 23 per cent said they chose to work via an agency because they liked the lifestyle, and one in three would prefer to take a permanent position. A quarter usually work on assignments of less than four weeks but an equal number reckon their average post lasts six months or more.

Temporary workers have recently been granted better rights by Brussels. The UK government is currently consulting on giving agency staff equal rights with permanent staff after 12 weeks' employment.

A third of respondents complained that permanent staff are paid more than temps and one in three claims to have missed out on overtime or anti-social hours payments. Some 46 per cent of temporary workers believe they get less holiday than permies.

75 per cent believe they were entitled to less redundancy pay should the worst happen - the TUC notes that temps are often the first to be shown the door when times get hard.

Less than half of the temps believed they had less access to training and paid time off to get trained.

More than 70 per cent of respondents believed temporary staff have less right to maternity pay compared to permanent staff.

TUC boss Brendan Barber said he had no problem with temporary staff, as long as they are not seen as a way to cut costs and reduce workers' rights. Barber called for better regulation to bring temps' rights into line with those of full-time workers.

The TUC's full statement is here. ®

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