45 years to stamp out zero hour contract “epidemic”

New analysis published today has revealed it will take 45 years to stamp out the epidemic of zero hours contracts if the current trend continues.

The latest ONS figures, released this week, show a drop in the number of workers on zero hours contracts of 20,000 compared to last year – from 903,000 workers to 883,000.

At that rate of change, the number of people on zero hours wouldn’t disappear until 2061.

Ireland looks to be the next country call time on zero hours contracts, while on Friday Transport for London made the historic decision not to renew Uber’s licence.

At Labour Party conference, GMB is launching ‘Tackling Insecure Work: political action from around the world’, and calling on the government to take action to stamp out the proliferation of precarious work – be it abuse of agency contracts or bogus self employment – and to learn lessons from other countries that are already taking action.

The report by the University of Sheffield’s Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) for GMB illustrates the ways insecure work is being tackled across the globe, and while globally we are nowhere near close enough to eradicating the scourge of insecure work as a business model, it shows that with political will action can and is being taken.

Eye-catching examples include:

· Banning zero hours contracts (New Zealand)

· Providing guaranteed hours per week in short hours contracts (Germany, France and Italy)

· Preventing the use of agency contracts in the construction sector (Germany and Japan)

· Limiting the number of a temporary and agency workers a company can employ (Norway and Italy)

· Limiting the number of times fixed term contracts can be renewed (Netherlands, Spain, Bulgaria, Greece, Norway, France and Italy)

· Ensuring severance pay for temporary workers (France, Spain and Slovenia)

· Giving temporary workers the same access to training as permanent workers (Denmark)

The action is not confined to left-leaning governments, with New Zealand’s National Party banning zero hours contracts and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has provided additional rights for temporary and agency workers following campaigns by trade unions.

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said: “People employed through agencies, on zero hours or who are falsely self-employed could have the tap turned off on their hours with no notice and with no compensation.

“We already hear stories of workers who get on the bus to work only to get a text saying they aren’t needed that day.

“How can you plan for childcare, let alone your future, when you’ve no idea if you wage packet will be from one week to the next? It’s no way to live and it has to stop.

“GMB’s report from SPERI shows that when there is political will to take action, governments can make a difference to millions of working people.

“The UK government could act, but is choosing not to and as a result is being left behind so many other countries and advanced economies who are tackling insecure work.

“Only on Friday TfL made a brave decision on Uber – showing how tough regulation can tackle bad practices.

“Working people cannot afford the status quo. At the current rate it will take 45 years to get rid of zero hours contracts.

“A whole generation of zero hours workers hasn’t even been born yet.

“This should be an easy choice for a government that says it cares about working people – let’s see some action.”

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1 Response

  1. Richard Owen

    Zero hours workers, guess I will Google that, then reread this article once I know what that is??? Or why go to the trouble. Thank you.

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