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Sports Direct was roundly criticised for its use of zero-hours contracts. Employers often plead poverty but aren’t these chains big enough to provide proper jobs?

It seems the Tories have succeeded in their long-term plan to ensure that working people are forever living in fear, by making their employment so insecure, and the benefit system so draconian, that they must take any work they are offered, no matter how low-paid.

This seems to be the fact at the heart of this week’s revelations that, although employment figures remain high, the number of people on zero-hours contracts – and therefore unsure that they will be needed for work, let alone paid, is at an all-time high.

It seems 970,000 people are now on zero-hour contracts – that’s an increase of 74,000 in just three months.

They don’t get sick pay or holiday pay.

They can never be sure they will be able to feed their children or pay the bills.

And they can’t just sign onto benefits in between bouts of work because there’s a five-week wait for Universal Credit and any work done may disqualify them.

Peter Stefanovic lays it all out here:

And now we learn that “low-skilled” (by which I think she means “low-paid”) immigrants will be banned from entering the UK by Home Secretary Priti Patel.

This means working people already resident in the UK will be expected to take up the slack, taking part in seasonal work like picking fruit and vegetables and being cast aside after that work is done.

Ms Patel reckons the UK’s eigh million “economically inactive” people can be pressganged into doing this work.

Both statistics quoted by Donwyn here are more or less correct.

But “economically inactive” doesn’t mean “unemployed and seeking work“, and that’s an important difference.

These are people who don’t need to work – so why should they lift a finger to fill gaps in the employment market now?

Of course, employers may find that there simply aren’t enough “low-skilled” workers to go around, on the low pay that they offer.

The excuse for low pay has always been that it was all the employers could afford.

If they start going out of business, I suppose we’ll know the truth of it.

Personally, I think working people will be expected to take on two or three jobs at a time in order to make ends meet.

It’s the ‘sweatshop Britain’ that Margaret Thatcher always wanted.

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