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From The Socialist newspaper, 23 October 2013

We need action against zero-hour contracts

Join the day of action on 5 November

Claire Laker-Mansfield

How do you make a fortune worth £1.7 billion? It's perhaps not a question most of us have spent too much time pondering.

For the average person, the more pressing questions are the ones about paying fuel bills, making food last and avoiding rent arrears.

But if ever you do have the urge, it would be worth addressing the question to one Mike Ashley - proud owner of Sports Direct, currently in 15th place on the country's rich list.

The only thing is, you might be a little disappointed at the answer. Mike Ashley made his money in the same way most of them do - not through some special genius or unique innovation.

He started out rich, he bought up other people's companies and - here's the most important bit - he employed thousands of workers on insecure zero-hour contracts and rock bottom wages. Because maximum exploitation equals maximum profit.

Like it or lump it?

When Sports Direct and other big companies were exposed in the press for their enormous use of zero-hour contracts, it caused outrage.

Anyone can see the deep unfairness of it. Your employer has total freedom and flexibility. You have to like it or lump it - plenty of people are queuing up to get more hours if you upset the boss.

But Youth Fight for Jobs says we're not prepared to simply 'lump it'. The Sick of your Boss (SoyB) initiative is mounting a fightback against zero-hour contracts, low pay and insecurity.

On 5 November we're calling a national day of action targeting zero-hour companies with protests, stunts and occupations.

In particular we'll be hitting super-exploitative Sports Direct. We're appealing to everyone who's facing these issues at work, to trade unionists who support our campaign and to anyone disgusted by these contracts to join us on the day.

Building anger

With this action, we want to put the spotlight back on the zero-hour employers who think they can get away with it.

We want to give confidence to those struggling under the weight of low wages and casual employment that they're not alone.

Because ultimately, it won't be rallies and stunts that beat back greedy and exploitative bosses. It will be the workers getting organised.

We can take inspiration from the example of Hovis workers who've taken strike action and beaten back zero-hour contracts. They've shown it's possible to fight - and it's possible to win.

What Mike Ashley and those like him fear most is not just bad publicity, it's the anger that's building on his shop floors, it's the potential for working class traditions - those of unions, strikes and solidarity - to assert themselves powerfully as his employees get a feel for their own strength.

That's why SoyB aims to use this day of action as a springboard for building groups of young workers and trade unionists who can help each other to get organised. If you're sick of your boss and want to join the fightback - protest on 5 November.

See www.youthfightforjobs.com for details

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 23 October 2013:


Socialist Party news and analysis

It's a robbery not a 'recovery'

Build a no-cuts political alternative

Hypocritical Hunt blames families for care scandal

Government policies - 'deeply divisive'

Big business lines its pockets from nuclear power

Them & Us


Socialist Party feature

Energy for the millions ...not the millionaires


International socialist news and analysis

France: Deep malaise marks 'la rentrée'

Tunisia: Left-wing rapper, Klay BBJ, acquitted on appeal


Socialist Party workplace news

Overwhelming support for teachers' strike in the south and north

Postal workers go into battle

Grangemouth: a fight we can't afford to lose

PCS strike in DWP and DEFRA Shared Services

Probation officers vote for strike action

What role can trade unions play in fighting welfare attacks?

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Campaign victory for rebel councillors as local pool to be re-opened

We need action against zero-hour contracts

TUSC candidates stand up against austerity

200 say 'Tequila's got to go!'

Swansea socialists oppose National Front

Turn anger into action: join the socialists


 

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Related links:

Zero-hour contracts:

triangleLabour and the fight for a shorter working week

triangleWorkplace victory emboldens retail workers to get organised

triangleTrade union action can end low pay

triangleLaughable research denies low-pay scandal

triangleInterview with a shop worker

Sick Of Your Boss:

triangleSick of your boss? Join a union! Come to NSSN conference

triangleZero-hour contracts: Demeaning rules and poverty pay

triangleFighting for decent working conditions

triangleFast food workers: Hungry for decent pay and conditions

Rich:

triangle£1,600 less benefits if your job goes - while super-rich splash cash

triangleRich get handouts - workers get pay cuts

triangleBail out the real wealth creators, not the rich

Youth Fight for Jobs:

triangleJarrow March: an inspiring show of solidarity between workers and youth

triangleUnison Broad Left meeting

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