AN ATTEMPT by a Southampton MP to boost the rights of temporary workers was blocked by the Government yesterday.

John Denham, Labour MP for Southampton Itchen, pictured, threw his weight behind a Private Member's Bill which would have secured equal employment rights for agency workers.

The Temporary and Agency Workers (Pre-vention of Less Favour-able Treatment Bill) would have given the country's 1.4 million agency workers the same rights as permanent staff on issues such as basic wages, sick and holiday pay.

Speaking before the debate, Mr Denham said: "Agency working is increasingly associated with a reduction in the terms and conditions of directly employed workers.

"Division is growing between workers as a result, often more strongly felt where the agency staff is largely made up of migrant workers. "Agency workers often tell the same tale - one of exploitation, insecurity and hopelessness.

"They outline a struggle to raise their families and the difficulties of getting on to the housing ladder. I am pleased to be supporting this Bill."

But employment relations minister Jim Fitzpatrick said the Government did not agree with according equal rights from day one and added that recruitment agencies were drafting a code of conduct to combat the problem.