One of the more disturbing developments in employment practice has been the introduction of ‘zero hours contracts’ which leave employees in a parlous situation yet provide bosses with a flexible workforce and big profits. The practice is spreading.
“Buckingham Palace, a leading cinema chain and one of Britain's best known art galleries are among a group of high profile employers who sign staff up to so-called "zero-hours" contracts to keep employment costs at a minimum.
Two days after it emerged that retailer Sports Direct employs 20,000 staff on zero-hours terms, the Guardian has established that the royal family's London residence, along with Cineworld and the Tate galleries, hire workers under the controversial employment practice.
The 350 part-time employees deployed as extra staff during Buckingham Palace's summer opening have no guaranteed hours. They work in the shop, greet visitors, and work as monitors in the rooms made open to the public.
All of Cineworld's part-time multiplex staff are on zero-hours contracts, as are all catering staff at the Tate galleries in London, Liverpool and St Ives, Cornwall.....”
“.....However, the contracts leave staff without guaranteed hours, sick pay or holiday pay, and make it difficult to get a tenancy agreement, credit card or loan because proving regular income becomes impossible.
The contracts leave workers vulnerable to sudden reduction in shift patterns and last-minute shift cancellations at the discretion of managers. Dozens of staff on zero-hours contracts have told the Guardian that if they do not make themselves available for work they are unlikely to receive shifts for the rest of the month.” Guardian Online 31/7/13
Yet again it is the poorest and most vulnerable who are paying for the malpractice and greed of the wealthiest. This is a despicable way to treat a workforce. The next time PR PM Cameron comes over all smug about the unemployment figures consider whether these contracts are not included in the figures.
Question: what to do about it?
Some have suggested boycotting companies such as Sports Direct. Others say make sure your MP knows what you feel about this issue either in a letter, email or in person at a constituency surgery. It feels an issue that the Labour party should be grabbing and running with. Unfortunately this began on their watch.....