Report reveals horrors of insecure work in 21st-century Britain
CRUEL agency bosses have created a “climate of punishment and fear” for workers on temporary or zero-hours contracts, axeing their shifts “out of spite,” a damning study has revealed.
Some agency workers interviewed for the Universities of Salford and Sheffield Hallam report said they were subjected to a “punishment regime,” with shifts withdrawn if they opposed management.
A former care worker reported that an older colleague had been denied work for three months after refusing to work extra night shifts.
An agency worker who worked for a fastfood company said: “Even full-time permanent staff could be on only 15 hours if their face didn’t fit.
“You needed to be friends with the shift organisers — friends would get the best shifts. Out of spite some full-time workers only got one or two shifts a week at times.”
Another worker told researchers he felt he had been singled out for refusing a last-minute offer of a night shift, saying: “I got a phone call at 11 o’clock at night as I was getting into bed.
“They offered me a single night shift unloading pallets and called it a ‘work placement.’
“I turned it down and have had no contact with the agency since. Basically you can’t refuse a job.”
Other workers described how they suffered mental health problems, were unable to see their children and were sometimes away from home for three days due to their zero-hours contracts.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady told the Star: “Zero-hours contract workers are often treated like disposable labour. They can be let go in a heartbeat— or punished with fewer shifts.
“That’s why all workers should have the right to a guaranteed-hours contract. Far too many are afraid to challenge bad working conditions.”
The Universities of Salford and Sheffield Hallam report, entitled Agency Workers and Zero Hours Contracts — The Story of Hidden Exploitation, was launched yesterday at Derbyshire Unemployed Workers Centre.
Co-author Dr Daiga Kamerade from Salford University said: “These draconian employment practices create a climate of punishment and fear which has no place in 21st-century Britain.”