Shout99 has been told that BT has told Hays to accept a three per cent margin and that every contractor earning more than £15 an hour must agree to a rate cut of 12.5 per cent from April 1. For some contractors this will be the second rate cut in a year. The alternative, it is reported, is an immediate four weeks' notice.
It is alleged that freelancers who work for BT through other agencies would be transferred to Hays. This means that many agencies could lose a significant number of contractors, and contractors are being transferred to Hays without having a say in the matter.
Feelings are running high among freelancers within BT. One contractor told Shout99: "I think the days of the freelance computer contractor will be numbered if big companies can work in collusion with the contractor's agents in this way.
"It looks like big business has started to operate in cartel with like-minded companies to drive down rates thus avoiding the free market."
Hays neither confirmed nor denied the reports. The company will be presenting its first half results next week (March 4) and the outcome of its full strategic review. It is not expected to comment on these reports until after the results.
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Susie Hughes, © Shout99.com 2003