Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Come fly with me or should I say our agency staff

There is absolutely no doubt that the increasing use of temporary staff as helped raise the profile of procurement.  I actually quite enjoyed letting contracts for agency staff - they provided real influence over big expenditure decisions which had previously been 'closed' and they also delivered significant cost reductions.  One of the things which puzzled me was the exponential demand for the contract which doubled in size every year.

One of my abiding memories of working with Belfast City Council was Bill Clinton's Presidential visit.  It wasn't the razzmatazz or even the special agents approach to sweeping the building, but bizarrely, that Clinton met a disproportionate number of Agency staff about whom very little was known.  I sometimes ask myself: 'did we escape a terrorist attack by the skin of our teeth?' Are there some roles which shouldn't be considered suitable for temporary staff?

It is against that background I was amazed to learn of what now seems to be an over-dependency of Ryanair on Agency staff.  Not temporary baggage handlers, not temporary cabin crew, not even temporary check-in staff - no agency staff as aircraft pilots!

It has now been suggested that 72% of those flying Ryanair are Agency staff ; 1,694 of the 2,344 pilots.

Is this a step too far?  I fly an enormous amount; at least two flights a week.  I quite like the idea that the pilot is being paid a reasonable wage, is regularly trained and checked for competence, is free to stay off work if considered sick, is not likely to be over-tired and has a vested interest in the success of the company.  I also quite like the idea that they have a vested interest and are motivated as opposed to feeling vulnerable, if  they express safety concerns.  To me those are less likely to be the norm with agency staff.  I certainly don't want to learn that the pilot was contracted on lowest price and that more costly, experienced pilots are in full-time employment.

I just wonder if sometimes procurement staff should be questioning 'is this the most appropriate procurement?'.  What will it be next: brain surgeons, nuclear scientists, bomb disposal experts? Are there some areas where it is a mistake to procure?  (answers via comments please?)


  1. Gordon
    Nice post! But what's your source for the 72% - can't find it mentioned anywhere else?
    Also you suggest procurement should be questioning this - I don't think we often get the chance to express our view in that way.It's the line manager making those decisions on staff. We might also ask why use of agency staff continues to grow? Are Governments pricing real employees out of the market through tax and regulation?

    1. Thanks Pete, link now embedded to source: Sunday Times, 30 September.

  2. Thanks Pete, I have embedded the link now to the source, Sunday Times, 30 Septmeber.