Scrap zero-hour contracts! photo Mary Finch, credit: Mary Finch (uploaded 02/05/2018)
Scrap zero-hour contracts! photo Mary Finch, credit: Mary Finch (uploaded 02/05/2018)

A young worker on a zero-hour contract

One thing that most workers look for when applying for jobs is consistency and job security. This is something that most young workers, especially those who also study, and many older workers, can only dream about. Insecurity and inconsistency in work for young people comes from two main sources: zero-hour contracts and the lack of fighting trade unions in the private sector.

I write from experience, having worked zero-hour contracts in both call centres and hospitality while studying at university. Sadly, I am far from the only young person that is, or has been, in this position. Hundreds of thousands of workers are anxiously waiting for next week’s or next month’s rota to be released, nervous to find out if the hours their boss will offer them will allow them to make ends meet in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis.

Thought of talking about trade unions with other young workers? Make sure the boss doesn’t hear! Whilst you have a legal right to join a trade union, what is going to stop the bosses from reducing the hours of those ‘troublemaking’ workers who would dare to fight for better conditions? 

Whilst I may have painted a bleak picture, there is hope. Young workers and those on zero-hour contracts can still organise and win, as seen by some of the struggles by Unite, the bakers’ union and other unions. However, organising in the workplace is not alone sufficient to win change, political struggle is also needed. The Socialist Party demands the abolition of zero-hour contracts, and good jobs with pay we can live on for young people and all other workers. Organised and fighting, together we can change the workplace and the world around us.

The Socialist Party demands:

  • A £15-an-hour minimum wage for all, without exemptions. For the minimum wage to automatically increase linked to average earnings or inflation, whichever is higher
  • An end to insecure working, for the right to full-time work for all who want it; ban zero-hour contracts. The right to flexible working, under the control of workers not employers. Share out the work – a maximum 32-hour working week with no loss of pay or worsening of conditions
  • All workers to have trade union rates of pay, employment protection, and sickness, parental and holiday rights from day one of employment. End bosses using bogus ‘self-employment’ as a means to avoid giving workers rights
  • For all wage rates to be automatically increased at least in line with price rises
  • Open the books of all companies cutting jobs or claiming they can’t afford to pay a real living wage. State subsidies, where genuinely needed, for socially useful small businesses
  • For democratic, fighting trade unions and all trade union officials to be regularly elected, subject to recall by their members and paid a worker’s wage
  • Repeal all the anti-trade union laws
  • For a new mass workers’ party, based on the trade unions, and drawing together workers, young people and activists from workplaces, and community, environmental, anti-racist and anti-cuts campaigns, to provide a fighting, socialist political alternative to the pro-big business parties
  • A democratic socialist plan of production based on the interests of the overwhelming majority of people, and in a way that safeguards the environment