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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 September 2013

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.

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In The Socialist 11 September 2013:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Let's organise an autumn of action against austerity

NSSN rally calls for mass action to stop the cuts

Disaffiliate from pro-capitalist Labour

Teaching unions prepare for campaign of autumn strikes

TUC congress dominated by questions of joint action and links to Labour Party

Save our NHS!

The government's Alice in Wongaland recovery

Zero faith in Labour on zero-hours

Their homes ... & Ours

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Bolton victory shows we can beat the bedroom tax

Large counter-demo against racist EDL

Merseyside People's Assembly - A lost opportunity

Socialist Students

Reinvigorate the student movement: Protest, occupy, strike for our education

International socialist news and analysis

Chile 1973: The other '9/11'

Obama's drums of war fail to win support for Syria strike

Socialist Party workplace news

Housing workers strike again

Yorkshire Ambulance: The battle against union derecognition

POA members hold meeting outside HMP Leeds

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party reviews

Art review: The vanity of small differences

TV review: Failed by the privatising NHS

Book review: Capital - in Manga!


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