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Why do they keep part of my salary?

At a stage where labour relations have changed to such an extent that private and public enterprises use temporary work agencies to hire permanent workers, this is an essential question to pose. By Isabel Pires.
A Randstad sign. Randstad is one of the world's largest temporary work agencies. Photo by Personeelsnet/Flickr.

It is essential because, at the same time collective hiring was eroded, workers’ protections were eroded too. Not a new phenomenon, the temporary work agencies gained great importance in recruitment in (not just) Portugal, like a virus that takes over a computer and spreads to the whole network in a few seconds.

Going back to the initial question, emerging with the idea that they could help business meet their demand for temporary work, the temporary work agencies are now only good for business to save money by not recruiting workers for permanent positions. Amidst all this, the ETT’s return profit through only one thing: with a portion workers’ wages.

Let’s see: I have an temporary contract with temp agency Y, providing a service for the company X. I never have a direct link with company X, even though I am held accountable for the service I provide them (thus putting the workplace at risk with any mistake). All the legal attributes in the employment agreement are linked with the temp agency Y. 

However, between company X and my wages, the temp agency Y kept half (or more) of a salary that would belong to me, the worker. Why? Why has it become trivial the existence of business that profit at the expense of the work of others? 

Various reasons contribute to the situation arriving at this stage. Firstly, the legislation on the operations of temporary work agencies are practically unchanged since its inception. Secondly, the eroding of collective hiring led the way for all sorts of instability. Thirdly, the idea that job regulations should be liberalised at any cost was stimulated, which was duly complied with by business, in the name of profit.

We did not get to this stage by chance. And it is not by chance that this situation is only now being discussed. Because this is a status quo that capital wants to keep, crushing workers even more. All of this with the complacency of successive governments, and the alterations to the Labour Code that made it possible.

The challenge now is to raise awareness for the true state of affairs. We all must ask ourselves: why do they keep part of my salary? Only by questioning this can we, together, mobilise enough people to force change: recruitment with rights, forcing collective hiring, reinforcing the workers’ movement.

Originally published in acontradicao.wordpress.com, translated by João Areal for esquerd.net/English.

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Sobre o/a autor(a)

Deputada e dirigente do Bloco de Esquerda. Licenciada em Ciências Políticas e Relações Internacionais e mestranda em Ciências Políticas
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