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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 November 2015

A day in the life of a Game retail worker

"Zero-hour contract means I struggle to make my rent"

A Game worker

I wish I could describe a standard working day but being on a zero-hour contract, days are anything but standard.

Due to midnight launches, late night shopping days and special events with early opening times, I am expected to be ready to work anywhere between the hours of 5am and 3am. Often I will be called up with only a couple of hours' notice to cover a shift if somebody goes sick.

There is no consistency in how many hours I will work, sometimes it's over 16 hours which means I'm no longer entitled to job seekers' allowance or housing benefit but often my hours drop below this meaning I have to go through the laborious process of applying again, having only just signed off.

Frustrating

This is even more frustrating when I'd happily work full-time if I could just be given the hours. Instead I spend my free time looking for supplementary jobs (impossible considering how flexible I have to be) and explaining to assessors my ever changing situation.

I can't plan my social life as my hours are never regular and I'm forced to accept any shift offered because if I don't, management will put me at the bottom of the list of people to ask.

I struggle each month to make my rent and I'm constantly on edge wondering if I will have enough left over each month to be able to afford more than one or two meals a day. I go into work sick, tired and often hungry and sometimes work up to seven hours straight with no breaks.

Due to lower level managers and supervisors being salaried, they often work more than 20 extra hours a week just to ensure that all tasks are completed. If staff were employed on genuinely full-time contracts the workplace would be far less daunting. But often you're left with a contradictory situation where most of the staff are complaining that they don't get enough hours while others are grumbling that they work too many unpaid hours and feel unappreciated and exploited.

Staff are cynically employed on minimal contracted hours and are pitted against each other. More hours are only offered to those who have the most sales, complete the most unpaid hours of extra training and be the most flexible with their hours.

The ones that don't adapt to this fast-paced, highly competitive environment just get their four or eight hours a week. There's nothing that can be done about this as that's all they are contractually entitled to.

Insecure

Unions need to reach out to this ever-growing layer of insecure workers.

We need a 10 an hour minimum wage now and at the same time, an end to zero-hour contracts. Many young workers have recently been attacked in the press, particularly by the Tories for being lazy, unproductive and unwilling to work. Give me enough hours and a wage I can genuinely live on and I will happily work it.

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In The Socialist 18 November 2015:


Socialist Party news and analysis

How to defend Corbyn and defeat austerity

We can defeat the Tory cuts!

Tories flog bank assets to hellhound US profiteers

Athletics doping scandal: big business profits behind global sports corruption

Councils won't spend a penny

Them & Us


Socialist Party features

The end of social housing? How can we solve the housing crisis?

How can young people organise to support Jeremy Corbyn?


International socialist news and analysis

Paris terror attacks


Workplace news and analysis

Junior doctors: first strikes in 40 years

Trade union action needed to fight for steel jobs

Historic London bus drivers' agreement

Reinstate sacked CWU reps

Pro-Corbyn mood among Usdaw members

Support for Roger Bannister in Unison election

Workplace news in brief


Readers' comments and reviews

All NHS unions should join junior doctors' strike

A day in the life of a Game retail worker

Why I joined: "I already feel as if I am finally home"

Robert Tressell's characters are all too real to me

My struggle for an income I can live on


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Labour bans union activist

Thousands march against India premier's bloody sectarianism

Strike to save Lambeth libraries

Gaining momentum in Lewisham

Anger at care home closure


 

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Related links:

Retail:

triangleFight back against the retail bosses!

triangleAngry Usdaw members strike at Sainsbury's distribution centre over sick pay cut

triangleUnited on need for fightback - now keep pressure on for action

triangleUsdaw union conference demands action on pay, jobs and the right

triangleUsdaw ADM 2019

Workers:

triangleLiverpool RMT seafarers protest against super-exploitation

triangleWorkers reject 'Martini' contract

trianglePro-democracy protests continue to rage

triangleThe Peterloo Massacre 1819: When a fearful ruling class tried to crush working-class political aspirations

Young workers:

triangleLondon: Students and young workers' assembly

triangleDundee: young workers meet

triangleGig-economy exploitation doubles

Zero-hour contracts:

triangleTrade union action can end low pay

triangleLaughable research denies low-pay scandal

Minimum wage:

triangleEast London Socialist Party: We need a 15 an hour minimum wage in London

Jobs:

triangleHarland and Wolff shipyard workers enter occupation

Environment:

triangleSocialist change to end climate change

Housing:

triangleBarking: campaigning over housing safety

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