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From: The Socialist issue 869, 9 September 2015: Now build austerity fightback

Search site for keywords: Zero-hour contracts - Workers - Jobs - Union - Young people - Young workers - Trade union - Minimum wage - Apprenticeships - Pay

Workers racked by 19% rise in zero-hour contracts

Daniel Smart, zero-hour contract worker

Over the last year, the number of workers on zero-hour contracts has increased by almost a fifth. Many workers, particularly young people, lead a life not knowing how much work they will get from each week to the next.

New figures by the Office for National Statistics show a rise in the precarious contracts from 624,000 to 744,000 last year. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The Trade Union Congress estimates there are a further 820,000 people 'underemployed' - not getting enough hours.

Anxiety

Like many, I have experienced the anxiety of life on a zero-hour contract. Shifts were cancelled by text at the last moment. I have been forced to wait for emails saying a few hours here and there are available on a 'first come, first served' basis.

Worker can be pitted against worker in a desperate competition for shifts. Is this not the modern-day equivalent of waiting outside the factory gates hoping to be picked for a day's work?

Perhaps the Tories' three million apprenticeships promised over the next five years will give some consolation to young workers? It looks unlikely when these are overwhelmingly in low-skilled jobs - such as street cleaners and warehouse assistants.

This is a thinly veiled attempt to allow employers to undermine wages whilst massaging unemployment figures. Bosses can legally pay apprentices as little as 2.73 an hour.

The Socialist Party fights for guaranteed hours for all workers who want them. We also campaign for investment in useful jobs - and a 10 an hour minimum wage now, with no exceptions.







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