By James Johnson-Flint
A Trade Union Congress (TUC) event on Monday 13 January brought together leading figures from unions, business and community organisations to call for new rights for workers to end exploitation through zero hours contracts.
The event was chaired by Daily Mirror journalist Ros Wynne-Jones. Speakers included:
The event discussed how unions, good employers and voluntary sector organisations can campaign together in 2020 to put an end to the injustice of zero hours contracts.
Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, said:
“The government has promised new laws on workers’ rights. But the current proposals for a ‘right to request’ predictable hours will achieve nothing. Ireland has shown the way by banning zero hours contracts. Britain must do the same. This isn’t just about doing the right thing for working people. It’s about supporting good employers too. It’s not fair if bad employers undercut them with business models based on the exploitation of workers.”
Julian Richer, Founder and Managing Director of Richer Sounds, said:
“As an employer, I care passionately about my colleagues. And I can’t imagine anything more likely to cause misery than not knowing day-to-day whether they will have enough money for food or rent. These evil ways of exploiting people at work must be banned – as indeed they are in the great majority of European countries. If we can’t give working people basic security, we should be ashamed.”
Ian Hodson, National President of the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union (BAFWU) said:
“Our members on zero hours contracts are very vulnerable. Many of them feel powerless to complain, even if they suffer serious problems at work like bullying and sexual harassment. The response from managers can be threats to cut their hours of work. But they simply can’t afford to lose any pay, so what can they do? We have cases where managers text people to come straight in. But when they arrive, they find the same text was sent to several workers and only one is needed. And they don’t get their travel costs back, so it’s like being on negative pay. Lots of landlords won’t take you if you are on a zero hours contract. And of course you can’t get a mortgage. So we have members who have been forced to live in places that are unfit for habitation and dangerous to their health. Nobody should have to live like that in 21st Century Britain. Every job should give people the basic security they need to live a decent life.”