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Manpower says on its website that it "helps companies anticipate and benefit from changes happening now and next in the contemporary world of work".[1] It specializes in staffing and recruitment, training, outsourcing and consulting. In 2008 it celebrated its 60th anniversary.[2]

Manpower was formerly known as Blue Arrow. When Dennis Stevenson joined Manpower in 1988, after four months, he “asked all the British executives on the board to resign”.[3] He told the Daily Yomiuri that he did this because they had fired Mitchell Fromstein, who had been appointed president and CEO of Manpower in 1976. Stevenson reinstated Fromstein and he remained in these positions until his retirement in 1999.

There are three aspects to the "Blue Arrow affair" of which this incident was the outcome: the row between the directors (which Stevenson initiated to a certain extent), the share scam of County NatWest and the secrecy surrounding the subsequent cover-up of the DTI. But for the stockmarket crash of 19 October, 1987, the illegality would have remained secret.

Manpower provide staffing services across all skillsets to all sectors including driving, public sector, production, warehouse, retail, technical, office and finance. They place thousands of temporary and permanent staff into small, local companies every week and design and deliver customised HR and outsourcing solutions to some of the largest companies in the world.

They operate in 72 different countries and territories and provide individual service to 2.5 million employees worldwide. In the UK there are over 300 offices, and more than half are on-site contracts, where they work for the client from their premises.

Over 1.2 million candidates screened every year, 30,000 employees are on assignment across all industries in the UK at any one time and over half of these were within FTSE 100 companies.[4]

Flexible working

The New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) run by Peter Mandelson offered 2000 of the 5000 jobs available at the Dome to Manpower, which had also sponsored the Dome’s ‘Work Zone,’ a surreal celebration of ‘flexible working’, which featured a huge clock, ticking away the estimated 100,000 hours we spend at work in a lifetime.

Manpower is the largest employer in the US and is both an orchestrator and a beneficiary of the explosion in contingent employment and flexible labour markets. According to its director Mitchell Fromstein:

"The U.S. is going from just-in-time manufacturing to just-in-time employment. The employer tells us, “I want them delivered exactly when I want them, as many as I need, and when I don’t need them, I don’t want them here” ... Can I get people to work under these circumstances? Yeah. We’re the ATMs [automated teller machine, machine that dispenses cash] of the job market." [5]

Fromstein (who was the highest paid executive of a publicly held corporation with a yearly $4,078,805) presents himself, not so much as a mediator of this condition but as a guileless servant of the automation of the market:

"We are not exploiting people. We are not setting the fees. The market is. We are matching people with demands. What would our workers be doing without us? Unemployment lines? Welfare? Suicide?" [6]

In conjunction with BT, to demonstrate ‘distance working,’ Manpower established its first ‘contact centre’ in Thurso, in 1993. Now renamed ‘call centres’, their promotion draws on PR terms such as ‘the porous economy’ or ‘the agile economy’ to gloss the reality of the return to a lack of employment rights.[7]

With the Dome, Manpower’s intentions, other than proximity to government, were to influence the unions — sponsoring the TUC’s May Day ‘celebration’ in the Dome. But business sponsorship of the Dome was also strongly connected to lobbying the new government. McGuigan (2003) observed a range of possible outcomes in that Manpower went on to win lucrative contracts for the management of ‘employment zones'; BAe Systems' sponsorship of the ‘Mind Zone’, may have had an ulterior motive to influence government policy, especially ‘ethical’ foreign policy, which at one stage was threatening to restrict arms sales; the Hinduja brothers’ sponsorship of the ‘Faith Zone’ may have delivered a favour in return with Peter Mandelson’s attempts to facilitate their application for British passports; Tesco, who sponsored the ‘Learning Zone’, benefited by the government withdrawing a proposal to tax out-of-town car-parking; British Airways, who sponsored ‘Home Planet’, gained permission to build a new terminal at Heathrow; Camelot sponsored ‘Shared Ground’ and unexpectedly had its licence to run the National Lottery renewed; BSkyB sponsored ‘Skyscape’ and benefited from subsequent policy on broadcasting and digitalisation.[8]


Manpower’s board of directors' other interests include: Molson Coors Brewing Company, McDonald’s, IBM, Heineken N.V., Hewlett-Packard, Electrolux, Visa Israel, Arthur Andersen & Co, Johnson Controls, Inc., AT&T Corporation, The Boeing Company, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M). Its political connections are to the Brookings Institution, the George C. Marshall Foundation, Atlantic Council of the U.S, the U.S. Department of State Executive Compensation Committee, The Centre for European Policy Studies, The European Policy Centre the World Economic Forum and others.

Manpower’s Rozanne L. Ridgway was President and then Co-Chair of the Atlantic Council of the U.S. (1989-96). Ridgway — a career diplomat for 32 years (serving as the U.S. Ambassador to the German Democratic Republic (1982-85), the U.S. Ambassador to Finland (1977-80) and as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs(1985-89). Ridgway is currently a director for The Boeing Company, Emerson Electric Co., Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M), Sara Lee Corporation. She is also a Trustee for the Brookings Institution, and the George C. Marshall Foundation.

Ridgeway took over the place on the Manpower board vacated by Nancy Brinker who George W. Bush appointed as ambassador to Hungary.[9]Brinker contributed $36,500 to Republican candidates and party committees in 1999-2000, including $2,000 to the Bush campaign. She also gave $25,000 to the Bush/Cheney Inaugural Committee. Brinker negotiated the hosting and training of the Free Iraqi Forces, an expatriate group who later joined the coalition forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom, making Hungary the first European country to contribute to regime change in Iraq. [10]

Employers associations (such as the Economic League) have been on the lookout for ‘subversives’ a term which spiralled into paranoia during the cold war and has continued to do so this date — the Coors Brewing company (well represented on Manpower) was something of a leading light here.[11]

Iain Herbertson is responsible for Manpower’s 25,000 UK customers, 34,000 employees working each day, as well as the companies moves into Government. Manpower’s UK revenues exceed £600m and it is reputedly a pan-European market leader in IT resourcing, acquiring Elan Computing Group and invested in Jobsite, the Internet ‘Career Portal’.

Herbertson was involved in a government Task Force in the implementation of the ‘new deal’ programmes. Manpower UK joined with JobCentre Plus and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young to form “a unique public/private sector joint venture company”, Working Links. Herbertson is also the MD of Aspen Field Marketing Ltd, the salesforce outsourcer. Manpower established its first contact centre in Thurso, in the far north of Scotland, back in 1993. Originally it was set up in conjunction with BT to demonstrate ‘distance working’. "Call centres" have now been renamed into "contact centres" most likely because of the Dickensian working conditions. The down-sizing and outsourcing have been doing so well that: “The net job gains figure in the telecommunications industry is minus 2 — down from plus 28 a year ago — which Manpower says is the steepest drop in any sector in the 33 years it has been conducting its quarterly survey.”[12]

And PR companies have come up with buzz words (‘The porous economy’, ‘The agile economy’) to smother the realities.[13]


Membership, funding, connections

PR and Lobbying firms


  1. "Services", Manpower website, accessed October 2008
  2. "About Manpower", Manpower website, accessed October 2008
  3. Ikuo Anai, "Dennis Stevenson Chairman of Pearson PLC/The secrets of Stevenson’s success", The Daily Yomiuri Online, 1998, accessed October 2008.
  4. Manpower Website About Us last accessed 01/02/07
  5. Peck, J. & Theodore, N. (1999) Contingent Chicago: Restructuring the Spaces of Temporary Labour, EGRG Working Paper 99/03.
  6. Peck, J. & Theodore, N. (1999) Contingent Chicago: Restructuring the Spaces of Temporary Labour, EGRG Working Paper 99/03.
  7. Flexibility (2000) The Future of Flexible Staffing: Flexibility interviews Iain Herbertson, MD of Manpower PLC.
  8. McGuigan, J. (2003) The social construction of a cultural disaster: New Labour’s Millennium Experience, Cultural Studies, Vol. 17, No. 5: p. 669 - 90.
  9. Center for Responsive Politics (undated) THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION Embassy Row.
  10. Barber & Associates (1999) Nancy Brinker. See also: Eszter Breuer (2003) WAR IN IRAQ, Business Hungary, vol.17. No.4.
  11. Susan George (1997) [1] Winning the War of Ideas, Dissent.
  12. NEWSBYTES (2002) telcos to reduce staffing levels in Q1 2002, 2 January.
  13. Flexibility (2000)The Future of Flexible Staffing