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Tuesday 19th
posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain

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the Universities of Salford and Sheffield Hallam report said they were subjected to a “punishment regime,” with shifts withdrawn if they opposed management.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.”