Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/938/24809
"I worked from 9am to 11.30pm with only one break"
A zero-hour contract worker speaks to the Socialist
The number of workers employed on zero-hour contracts is set to rise to over 1 million for the first time. The Socialist spoke to Hannah, who is 'employed' on one.
The Socialist: Where did you work?
Hannah: I worked for a bar and restaurant over Christmas.
How many people were employed there?
There were 20-30 of us although I could never be completely sure - I often didn't see some of the other employees as we worked very different shifts.
When did you start work?
I started working in November 2016 and was there for about a month and a half. There was no mention of work stopping, I just had my last shift on New Year's Eve and then nothing. I know at least one other employee has had no shifts since then.
Have you contacted the employer about getting more shifts?
I called a week after New Year's Eve and they said they would contact me if any more work became available. I then called them two weeks later when I hadn't heard anything and they said they would probably not need me until Mother's Day!
Had anyone considered joining a union?
No, I just wanted to walk into an easy job and not have to worry as I have my studies to think about. I just didn't see the point of joining a union as they [the employers] would just see you as a pain rather than a positive to the company.
What were the conditions like at work?
At times it could be pretty draining. For me, the worst day was when we had a wedding reception booked in. We had to work from 9am to 11.30pm and I was only allowed one cigarette break throughout that entire time. Near the end of the shift one of the chefs offered to make us sandwiches because he could see how drained we were.
Are you still considered to be an employee even though you're getting no hours?
I am, although I've just got a new job because it's clear I wasn't getting any hours. I've been very up front with my new employer and told them not to screw me around on hours but it's another zero-hour contract because that's all I could get.
Would you want to see zero-hour contracts scrapped?
Absolutely. They are just a way to give the workers no rights
Would you join a trade union if your union helped you and your colleagues to organise effectively against zero-hours contracts?
Yes, it's something I'm actually thinking about now as I'm about to start a new zero-hour job.
In The Socialist 1 March 2017:
Socialist Party women
What we think
Socialist Party feature
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist readers' comments and reviews