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Labour: Ed Miliband pledges end to 'Victorian' exploitation in zero-hours contracts

Workers will gain rights to late cancellation compensation and regular contracts for regular work

ED MILIBAND will pledge today to end exploitative zero-hours contracts under a future Labour government.

The Labour leader will propose to ban “Victorian practices” that exploit zero-hours contracts and “have no place in the 21st century,” in a speech to the party faithful in Coventry.

His planned speech includes proposals to legislate to give employees “a legal right to a regular contract” if they are working regular hours and allow them to refuse demands that they are available over and above their contracted hours

Mr Miliband will also promise to give them rights to compensation when shifts are cancelled at short notice.

“A graphic symbol of what is wrong with the way this country is run is the army of people working on zero-hours contracts with no security while a few people at the top get away with paying zero tax,” he was due to tell Labour’s West Midlands regional conference.

“This zero-zero economy shows we live in a deeply unequal, deeply unfair, deeply unjust country run for a few at the top, not for most people. It is a country I am determined to change.”

He will highlight how zero-hours contracts are becoming the norm with numbers soaring to 1.4 million since 2010.

Mr Miliband will single out Sports Direct, which employs more than eight out of ten of its 20,000-strong workforce on zero-hours contracts despite many of them working regular hours, for blame.

“Sports Direct has predictable turnover, it is a modern company with stores on many high streets and, judging by its success, where many people shop,” said Mr Miliband.

“But for too many of its employees, Sports Direct is a bad place to work.

“This is not about exceptional use of zero-hours contracts for short-term or seasonal work which some employers and workers may find convenient. This is the way Sports Direct employs the vast majority of its workforce.”

Sports Direct was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

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