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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 October 2016

Asos workers fear taking toilet breaks, sacked for panic attacks

photo Guy Sie/Creative Commons

photo Guy Sie/Creative Commons   (Click to enlarge)

Karine Harvey, zero-hour contract worker

Workers at the warehouse of fashion retailer Asos are unable take toilet or drink breaks, in fear of not meeting their targets.

A three-month investigation by reporters at Buzzfeed revealed the shocking conditions.

Due to the increasing amount of pressure put onto the workers, one began experiencing panic attacks. This resulted in the termination of her employment at the Barnsley warehouse.

Other workers have commented on management deducting 15 minutes of pay even if they are only one minute late. The warehouse runs on a culture of fear.

With three and a half years of experience working on a minimum wage, zero-hour contract, I - and many people around me - have had very similar experiences to the Asos workers. The supposed 'flexibility' of working a zero-hour contract is a facade for the great anxiety and instability it inflicts on workers.

Colleagues of mine have been forced to look for other work as their hours were reduced to zero, with the fitting name of 'death by rota.' Due to our dependency on work and our complete expendability in our employers' eyes, they feel they have complete power over us.

When questioning whether I would be paid to attend a staff meeting, I was told to work somewhere else. When a colleague was told to work longer than his contracted hours but refused, he was told to "fuck off."

Are we really consenting to work? Or are we coerced?

What workers need is strong workplace organising, and a political voice. Collective action like strikes shows the bosses we're not so expendable as they think, and can win big improvements. And a party that fights for workers could ban zero-hour contracts.

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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.
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In The Socialist 5 October 2016:


What we think

Combative, vibrant unions should be central to the Corbyn movement


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories out!

Come to Socialism 2016!

Sam Allardyce corruption shame: reclaim the game!

Asos workers fear taking toilet breaks, sacked for panic attacks

UK workers born in early 1980s half as wealthy as those born in 1970s

Millions have less than 100 savings

Them & Us

What we saw


Black History Month

Fighting racism today


Workplace news and analysis

RMT president Sean Hoyle speaks to the Socialist

Durham teaching assistants ballot for strike

Napo conference 2016: new mood of determination

London Met strike against job cuts and victimisation

Workplace news in brief


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Corbyn's praise for Cardiff Labour is mistaken

Review: where you live can kill you

Review: international jazz protest storytelling

The Socialist inbox


Socialist Students

Socialist ideas - winning a new generation of students


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Thousands march against Tory conference

Protests against children's centre closures in Bolton

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Fighting fund record smashed again!

Leeds: Solidarity demo with Irish abortion fight

London: Socialism Today milestone celebration

Worcester: Public meeting discusses Corbyn


International socialist news and analysis

Poland: Fighting back against anti-abortion law

Ireland: repeal the 8th Amendment!

Joint declaration by Izquierda Revolucionaria and the CWI


 

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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

Workers:

triangleBuilding the Socialist Party

triangleNew laws: Unions must be on guard against attacks on workers' interests

triangleLabour must resist 'Covid coalition'

triangleRefuse collection workers strike

Minimum wage:

triangleEssential workers deserve more

triangleAverage wages recover to pre-crisis levels - but we're still over a decade behind

triangle6.5 million working poor: Fight to end low pay

Barnsley:

triangleFighting to stop school meals privatisation

triangleIndefinite dinner ladies' and teaching assistants' strike

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