Candi Lee was an agency worker when she started working for Boots in Nottingham, but she joined Usdaw and made use of the union learning centre and opportunities the union had negotiated for all staff. She is now employed by the company and hasn’t looked back since.
Agency staff can sometimes be seen as second-class workers, but unions are there to support all workers and Usdaw has been working at Boots to ensure all workers have access to union learning and the opportunities available.
Neil Chapman is a Project Work with Usdaw’s Learning Team and has seen first hand how the increase in the use of agency workers in the distribution and food manufacturing sectors has posed challenges for unions and has, in some cases, led to a two-tier workforce in the same workplace.
Usdaw has always campaigned and organised to give agency workers equal rights to those employed by the main company and to ensure that they have a route to full time employment.
This approach has been very successful in Boots as Neil explains:
We have an agreement on site with the GI Agency that mirrors the agreement with Boots and Boots full time colleagues.”
That means that GI colleagues have access to learning in the same way as Boots Colleagues. They can use the learning Centre, access courses and get matched time for learning where our agreement allows it.”
Candi is a prime example of how agency staff can benefit from these agreements and it highlights the importance of ensuring that access to learning is part of any agreement.
When I first came to Boots through GI, the first thing I did was join the union”
The reps gave a brilliant talk around what unions were about and also what was available through Lifelong Learning. I was interested in this so I paid a visit to the Learning Centre and took up the offer of an onsite ICT Course.”
Candi passed her course with flying colours and was soon a regular visitor to the Centre. She also successfully applied for permanent full-time job with the company.
I think completing my course and being involved in extra Learning helped my application for a full-time job.”
I am very grateful for the support the Union Learning Reps have given me. I will carry on learning with the aim of progressing further with the company and I am aiming for a role in Boots in the IT Dept. “
Our agreement at Boots is a win-win for us and the company, and it just underlines how important a learning partnership is to the modern workplace.”