Zero-hour contracts and other bad employment practices

Recently we saw the number of jobs rising, unemployment falling, meanwhile the economy collapsing. How was this possible, was it an illusion?

Neo-Labour found it was very easy to rig the unemployment figures. Force the unemployed into scam training courses, boot camps for the unemployed, run by A4E, CDC, Working Links, stop benefits for anyone who refuses.

At a stroke this got rid of the long-term unemployed, massaged the unemployment figures, as those forced onto these courses were also obliged to sign off the unemployment register as technically they were no longer unemployed, they were in training.

Professionals to unqualified who were illiterate and innumerate and could barely communicate, white collar workers to murderers and rapists, would spend the day idling their time waiting to be released. This constituted training. They were obliged to apply for several jobs each and every day, failure to do so would result in sanctions, ie benefits being withheld anything up to six months. This overloaded employers with bogus job applications. Bullying was widespread both by staff and between inmates which not only was condoned by staff but actively encouraged. If anyone did manage to find a job, the companies running the boot camps would claim the credit and get a fat bonus from government.

It was a nice gravy train for those who got the contracts.

David Blunkett, former Secretary of State for Employment, sat on the board of one of these companies. Conflict of interest?

We will always have unemployment, it is a feature of a free market economy. There will always be people who are unemployable.

Employment should be seen as a sabbatical, an opportunity to try something new, with the government providing the funding to add additional skills, to transfer skills to a new area.

Job Centres do nothing to help the unemployed, they simply harass people off the unemployment register to meet targets.

Should you be ill, an unqualified clerk will know better than a hospital consultant qualified in the field, that you are fit for work. A task now being carried out by Atos, who were sponsors of the London 2012 Paralympics.

A friend was very ill. She was under two consultants, they and her doctor said she was not fit for work. The Job Centre decided otherwise.

That the numbers of jobs appear to be growing is an illusion due to the casualisation of work and the creation of part-time jobs. Workers are having to string together two or more part-time jobs to make ends meet.

Employers like casual, part-time workers as the workers have less rights, no social security to pay.

For some part-time work is better, for example a mother with young children, can drop the kids off at school, put in a few hours, then pick them up on the way home from work.

For a coffee shop, part-time workers can supplement full-time workers during peak periods.

One of the most pernicious forms of employment are zero-hours contracts.

Naomi Klein in her seminal work No Logo, brought to wider public attention the appalling working conditions at Starbucks. During a slack period workers would be told to sign off, then sign back on again when busy. A worker could be on site for ten hours but only get paid for two hours.

Part-time you know how many hours you have to work, say 20 hours a week, similarly for full-time workers they know they will be working a 30-hour week. With a zero-hours contract, no hours are specified or guaranteed. You work when required, but are expected to be on call, you may not even be able to leave the premises.

Zero-hour contracts are not unlawful, though should be and it begs the question why Trade Unions are not acting to outlaw these contracts.

No one is forced to work zero-hours contracts. If people refused to agree to them these contracts would die out.

The Independent has a blog from a worker complaining at his zero hours contract. The solution is simple, do not work under a zero-hours contract. If you behave like a victim you cannot complain if your are victimised.

I asked of Costa were they using zero-hours contracts. I was told no. What happens if there is a slack period? Staff are sent home. Are they paid? No.

There is one step worse than zero hours contract, slave labour, unemployed being forced to work for nothing.

The ConDem government has taken the neo-Labour boot camps one stage further and has introduced Workfare, unemployed are forced to work for nothing, if they refuse their benefits are stopped. Companies benefiting from slave labour include Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Poundland and Primark.

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4 Responses to “Zero-hour contracts and other bad employment practices”

  1. keithpp Says:

    Not only the private sector, local councils abuse their workers too.

    Most local councils show contempt for their local communities, no surprise then, contempt for their workforce. Meanwhile snouts in the trough and gravy train for councillors and those at the top.

  2. keithpp Says:

    38 Degrees blog: Zero hours public consultation:

    Zero hour contract consultation attracts 36,000 responses:

    The government’s feedback on the consultation will be published here:

  3. keithpp Says:

    Unemployed forced to take zero hours jobs or be sanctioned for three months

  4. Regan Fraser Says:

    I recently was hired on-line for a work-at-home employment place call and because they don’t pay for down-time when there is a tech problem for the employee or ANY tech problem that should be compnay down-time (not employee down-time)….I think they should be reported to the labour board…thank your for your concern!

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