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From: The Socialist issue 916, 14 September 2016: #KeepCorbyn: Fight workhouse conditions

Search site for keywords: Zero-hour contracts - Workers - Pay - Agency workers - Shirebrook - Jeremy Corbyn - Labour

#KeepCorbyn: Fight workhouse conditions

Jeremy Corbyn speaking to one of many mass audiences, photo by Steve Score

Jeremy Corbyn speaking to one of many mass audiences, photo by Steve Score   (Click to enlarge)

For a party that fights for workers

"We have record employment, but also record levels of poverty among those in work... Work for millions has become insecure and stressful. We have to change that."

This is what Jeremy Corbyn wrote in July, announcing a series of policies to protect the low-paid.

He pledged that a Labour government under his leadership would ban zero-hour contracts. And it would force companies with over 250 employees to bring back collective bargaining - negotiating pay, terms and conditions through trade unions. He also demands a 10 an hour minimum wage.

No wonder the bosses and Tories hate him. He stands with workers against their cruel working conditions and poverty pay. That's why his leadership challenge is such a threat to companies like Sports Direct, which has hit the headlines recently for its appalling practices.

'Shane Stephenson', a zero-hour warehouse worker at another 'Victorian' firm, reports on the Sports Direct struggle:

Under pressure from unions and the media, workhouse employer Sports Direct has decided to partially scrap some zero-hour contracts.

Management promises a wage slightly above the national average, and a small number of guaranteed hours.

However, even these tiny changes are only for staff directly employed by Sports Direct. The vast majority are agency workers. In the 3,200-worker Shirebrook mega-warehouse, only 6% will benefit.

Meanwhile, fat-cat boss Mike Ashley shows up to the company's 'open day' pulling over a grand in 50 notes out of his pocket at the security check-in. His joking smile showed how little this concerned him.

At the firm's annual general meeting for shareholders, Ashley claimed he had no knowledge of 'sweatshop' conditions such as the 'six-strike policy'. Employees are disciplined for simply spending time in the toilet or talking to other staff.

I'm a zero-hour contract warehouse worker for another massive retailer, B&M. A lot of things are similar. Instead of a six-strike policy, we have three strikes! The majority of B&M stores don't even have proper air conditioning. 'Sweatshop' is right.

The Socialist Party fights for

  • Scrapping all zero-hour contracts - for full-time work for all who desire it
  • Flexible working for those who need it, but on workers' terms, not the bosses'
  • Union recognition and full employment rights from day one on the job

"Sports Direct's huge Shirebrook warehouse is on the site of a colliery that employed large numbers of well-paid, unionised, skilled workers. Today, thousands are employed as agency workers and on zero-hours contracts."

Jeremy Corbyn






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