The ArgusStaff stage wildcat strike at Three Bridges station (From The Argus)

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Staff stage wildcat strike at Three Bridges station

Agency workers at Three Bridges railway station have become the first in the country to claim a victory against new payment laws.

Around 30 electricians walked out of the station after learning they could lose up to £100 a week under the so-called umbrella scheme.

As of April 6, agency staff will no longer be able to use the CIS system of payment. This means workers would be responsible for paying their own National Insurance contributions, holiday pay and pension contribution instead of the agency.

The electricians, members of the Unite union, discovered the extent of the changes on Friday morning and following a show of hands elected to down tools and walk off site.

The crew said they would not return until they were offered direct employment which would result in no loss of earnings.

They were off-site for three hours while representatives of electrical contractor NG Bailey and Unite thrashed out a deal.

A provisional agreement was eventually reached and workers went back to the site.

Yesterday a settlement was agreed, believed to be the first in the country, which meant workers were given direct employment on three-month contracts.

This means the changes will not apply to the workers.

Unite regional officer Malcolm Bonnett believes the action could spark similar walkouts across the country with 200,000 agency workers likely to be hit by the changes.

He said: “I and other colleagues in Unite believe this is the first settlement since the changes were implemented on Sunday and it is likely there will be a spate of walkouts by agency workers throughout the UK.

“Direct employment gives construction workers and employers stability which is long overdue.

“These tradespeople are the backbone of the country and play a major role in keeping the infrastructure going.

“It is right and proper that they are given holiday pay, sickness and PAYE status for their contribution, which is not unreasonable to ask for and was negotiated by Unite.”

One of two maintenance depots for the new Thameslink trains is being built at the station.

The walkout did not delay rail services.

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