TUC hits out of failure of Tory government to regulate sector
by Felicity Collier
A GOVERNMENT crackdown is needed to ensure that nearly two million workers on zero-hours contracts have the same rights as regular employees, the TUC warned yesterday.
The call followed new research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing that the number of zero-hours contracts across Britain is staying stubbornly high at 1.7 million.
Unless an employer can show that workers are genuinely self-employed, they should have equal rights from the first day on the job, overtime pay, and be given a guaranteed number of shifts, the TUC said.
The union body is also calling for action so that agency workers get the same pay rates as directly employed workers.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Without government action, zero-hours contracts will remain a reality for many people.
“There is growing evidence of firms employing staff on short-hours contracts to avoid the bad PR associated with zero-hours jobs.
“These contracts guarantee as little as one hour a week, and, like zero-hours contracts, leave workers at the beck and call of their bosses.”
The TUC said that in the run-up to the election, every party manifesto must commit to tackling the scourge of insecure work.
Last month, shadow chancellor John McDonnell pledged to outlaw zero-hours contracts, saying it was a “cornerstone of the next Labour government’s programme to bring an end to the rigged economy that many experience in workplaces across Britain.”
People on zero-hours contracts are more likely to be young, part-time, women or in education when compared with other people in employment, according to the ONS.
On average, someone on a zero-hours contract usually works 25 hours a week, with one in three wanting more hours, it added.
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “An incoming government must heed the growing chorus of concern by banning zero-hours contracts, strengthening workplace rights and promoting strong trade unions and collective bargaining as part of a package for decent, well-paid work.”
Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton said: “Zero-hours contracts, many of which exploit young women, are used far too often.”