In these austere times, employment can be unstable and most of us worry that the threat of job losses is just one bad financial result away therefore workers rights are becoming more and more important and are in great need of protection. But what of those on zero hours contracts? What rights do they have?
Zero hours contracted employees are only called to work as and when required – sometimes at an hours notice – with no obligation from the employer to use their services. Not classed as contracted employees, there is no sick pay, no holiday entitlement and no basic rights that should come with a position within any company.
Although a potential benefit for small, local businesses whose requirements vary from day to day, the zero hour contract is being increasingly used by some of Britain’s biggest company as a cheap and dispensable form of labour. Companies such as Sports Direct – with a turnover of £2,185.58m and a pre tax profit of £151.6m – have around 90% of their 22,000+ workforce on these contracts.
How can they expect people to live with such uncertainty and with no rights? There is no ability to plan a home life, no ability to budget for a home life, no ability to arrange adequate child care. As such, these contracts are labelled zero hour but they are more of an unpaid handcuff for the employee to the employers wants and desires. It is morally and ethically repugnant.
It is becoming increasingly clear that companies are veering more towards this type of labour as a cheap way manning the workforce while avoiding such trivialities as workers rights. It is an outrage and something needs to be done.
They are creating an insecure, desperate, poverty stricken workforce with no voice or rights for themselves. The Conservative government show little to no interest in the issue as it allows them to trumpet falling unemployment figures while allowing their big business and private sector friends to get a cheap and easy workforce.
If the ordinary working class workforce of the country are not careful, the Conservative government may slowly erode the rights of the worker further in the name of austerity.
Just out of interest, slavery was abolished in the United Kingdom in 1833 with the introduction of the Slavery Abolition Act of the same year.