Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/779/17388
Zero faith in Labour on zero-hours
Helen Pattison, East London Socialist Party
New research by Unite the Union has found that as many as 5.5 million workers could be on zero-hour contracts.
This is a scandal and a big increase from the 250,000 suggested by the Office for National Statistics survey in July.
That figure was believed to be accurate until a week later when it was revealed that Sports Direct alone employed 20,000 people on the contracts. Half of all workers under 30 are thought to be affected.
Ed Miliband travelled all the way to TUC congress on 10 September to say: "we must stop flexibility being used as the excuse for exploitation".
This just shows what hypocrites he and the Labour Party are. They have only now chosen to speak out against the controversial contracts which were also widely used under the last Labour government.
And Newham all-Labour council employs 546 people on zero-hours contracts. Labour-controlled councils in Tower Hamlets, Ealing, Brent, Merton and Hounslow, are also using them.
Labour's plans to guarantee set hours unless workers opt-out will have little impact. Un-unionised workers who don't want to opt-out will be shown the door by bullying bosses.
Many practices that are illegal go on in un-organised workplaces - workers are forced to work without a break, are underpaid for the hours they work and essentially fired for trying to join trade unions by having their hours cut to nothing.
Youth Fight for Jobs, through the Sick Of Your Boss? initiative, is helping young workers to organise in their workplaces and build the trade unions to stop practices like these.
We can't rely on the Labour Party to come to our rescue. The only way to end zero-hour contracts, to end wages less than the cost of living and stop soaring unemployment and underemployment is for the trade unions to organise a united fightback.
Strike action by members of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union brought about the scrapping of zero-hour contracts at Hovis in Wigan.
We need a united effort to organise young workers on zero-hours contracts, but also against all the cuts and attacks on workers' rights.
In The Socialist 11 September 2013:
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