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The employment of temporary agency workers in the UK – with or against the trade unions?

Author

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  • René Böheim
  • Martina Zweimüller

Abstract

A firm's decision to employ agency workers may be perceived as a replace- ment of directly employed workers or as way to curb union power, which trade unions would oppose. Alternatively, trade unions may encourage the (tem- porary) employment of agency workers in a firm, if they manage to bargain higher wages for their members. We estimate the relationship between hir- ing agency workers and trade union activity at the workplace, in particular, the type of collective bargaining agreements. We use British data from the Workplace Employment Relations Surveys (WERS) of 1998 and 2004. The empirical association between the employment of agency workers and union strength is weak, but positive. Furthermore, workplaces with collective bar- gaining have lower wages in the presence of agency workers, suggesting that agency workers are hired against the unions.

Suggested Citation

  • René Böheim & Martina Zweimüller, 2009. "The employment of temporary agency workers in the UK – with or against the trade unions?," NRN working papers 2009-21, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  • Handle: RePEc:jku:nrnwps:2009_21
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Salvatori, Andrea, 2012. "Union threat and non-union employment: A natural experiment on the use of temporary employment in British firms," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 944-956.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    temporary work agency; collective bargaining; flexibility; Workplace Employment Relations Survey;

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J40 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - General

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