Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1008/27903
Shop workers hungry for £10 an hour now and an end to zero-hour contracts
'Adam Viteos', shop worker
I work as an assistant manager in a high street retail chain and one of the most regular complaints I get from my staff is that they are hungry.
Working on a four-hour contract, it is impossible for them to budget when they are only guaranteed such low hours each week.
Even lower management such as myself are only guaranteed 24 hours a week, with a real-terms pay cut waiting for us upon promotion as we lose our overtime rate. Full-time contracts are only given to store managers and deputy store managers.
Every member of staff regularly discusses with management about getting more hours. We recently had two people leave, both because they weren't getting enough hours.
Instead of raising everybody's hours, the company was quick to recruit two new people which has frustrated all of those who are crying out for more hours.
My company isn't alone, low and zero-hour contracts are rife throughout retail. The result of this is a huge rise in underemployment which is bringing with it a whole range of issues.
Stress, mental health issues and poverty are increasingly becoming the norm in my workplace. Things have become so desperate that we have started to organise communal meals to share the cost of food. It has built camaraderie among staff and we've begun to organise in a union.
Retail union Usdaw voted at its annual conference in April to build a campaign around the demand of a 16-hour minimum contract, except when the employee specifically requests less, coupled with a £10 an hour minimum wage.
This is something that members in my store have welcomed. But the campaign needs to be built if we're to rally the hundreds of thousands of retail workers to organise and push back against such conditions.
The anger bubbling away under the surface is a ticking time bomb. We're hungry for sustainable jobs and by the end of each month we're just plain hungry. We will not tolerate this forever.
- The building of a serious campaign for £10 an hour now and to scrap zero-hour contracts
- Coordinated trade union action on pay
- Sustainable full-time jobs
In The Socialist 5 September 2018:
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