We were contacted by a group of nine casual workers working for the Public Halls division of Calderdale Borough Council. They had worked in these roles for many years, with work offered and taken up on a monthly basis. Whilst the council chose to furlough them initially during the Covid pandemic, they were taken off furlough at the start of the second lockdown in November 2020 - despite the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. After several years of loyal service, the group were understandably frustrated and stressed at the sudden loss of income. Yet, when they tried to plead with the council to reconsider their position, they received no response. Then, out of frustration, they contacted their local MP and the councillors and suddenly found themselves threatened with the loss of work in future due to a breach of the council's code of conduct. Zero Hours Justice attempted to persuade the council to reconsider furloughing and to challenge the issue of breach of the code of conduct. Whilst the council refused to change its mind about refurloughing this group again, it did appear to row back from the language about breaching the code of conduct, which it accepted only mentioned employees not casual workers.
Whilst it is exceptionally demoralising that the Council are standing firm in their decision not to furlough us, particularly as we are all an exceptionally long term dedicated team of casual workers, we do need to work for money. It appears from what the Government are saying that the Halls may be able to reopen in June, which hopefully will mean paid casual work for us. It would be wonderful to be able to tell the Council to stick the work and vote with our feet, however this is not a privilege that we can afford.
Hence, I guess Calderdale Council are going to get away with this disgraceful practice and the fact they couldn’t even be bothered to communicate to the Casual Workers at the end of October last year that they were not going to furlough us and why, is a true reflection on how they do not value Casual Workers. Until there is a change in the law, I guess they will continue to take advantage of people like us, who simply need to work for the money.
Thank you for everything you have done for us, it is good to know that we are not wrong to think that we deserve to expect more from the Council and that you are championing for change.