Category Archives: Zero hours contracts

Coronavirus: zero-hours workers sacked en masse despite Tory government promises

Rishi Sunak: his promises to employees are turning out to be worthless.

Another Tory coronavirus promise bites the dust.

Rishi Sunak promised that zero-hours workers would be covered by his promise to pay 80 per cent of employee wages, as long as they were on PAYE.

But his promise depended on employers signing up to the deal, and many haven’t.

Instead, the Department for Work and Pensions has been swamped with new claims for Universal Credit.

The reason?

Rishi Sunak said on Friday that workers on zero-hours contracts would be covered, as long as they were paid through PAYE. But many of these workers have simply been let go en masse in any case. Self-employed workers, who are not on PAYE, are not covered at all and will have to claim benefits if their work dries up and no new government measures are enacted.

There’s no two ways around it. The Tories promised people would be protected; the Tories lied.

Source: Sacked by text message: Zero-hours contract workers laid off because of coronavirus’ impact | The Independent

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Tories create sweatshop Britain with zero-hours increase and immigration cut

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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Tory wage and benefit cuts mean millions are struggling to pay essential bills

Money: Boris Johnson is rolling in it but his policies have starved the UK of the cash that is the lifeblood of the economy.

Nearly 2.2 million people in the UK are struggling to pay council tax, rent and utility bills because they aren’t paid enough, according to research by two universities.

The reason is Conservative restrictions on pay rises since 2010.

So much for the “trickle-down” economics of neoliberalism, beloved by Boris Johnson and his cronies.

The research by the University of Birmingham and the University of Lincoln shows that nearly 1.6 million people have fallen behind with council tax payments.

Nearly a million people are behind with their rent and more than a million are in arrears over their water bills.

Nearly 2.2 million people have been contacted by bailiffs over failure to pay (which suggests that many have multiple bill-related problems), and nearly one million have said bailiffs have broken the rules.

These findings make a nonsense of claims that average wages are rising.

Perhaps those figures have been skewed by huge increases in the amounts paid to top earners, while those of us who do the work are left to struggle?

Experience shows that higher pay for workers results in increased productivity and market dominance – as Henry Ford learned when he doubled the wages of employees at his motor company in the early 20th century.

He called it the best cost-cutting measure he ever made.

Conversely, as workers struggle to survive real-terms wage cut after wage cut, productivity in the UK has suffered its worst drop in five years.

We have nearly a million people struggling to cope with zero-hours contracts in which they don’t know whether they’ll be working (and therefore earning) from one week to the next.

Average weekly real-terms earnings are not as high as they were before the 2008 financial crash, while bills have increased.

Poverty is particularly high in accommodation and food services; agriculture, forestry and fishing; administrative and support services; and wholesale and retail.

Few households have any savings worth mentioning – the rate is lower than the EU average and far lower than many of our largest and closest European neighbours.

Oh, and Boris Johnson is determined to force us into a “no deal” Brexit, creating even harsher economic conditions.

Considering the situation now, it seems this would be a huge mistake.

He would literally run the entire country into the gutter.

Source: Millions struggling to pay council tax and other essential bills, finds study

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Concern over exploitation as zero-hours contracts skyrocket

More people in the UK are being exploited by employers using zero-hours contracts, it has been revealed.

Is this an example of cruel employers having a last hurrah before a Labour government is elected to put a stop to it?

Labour has vowed to end zero-hours contracts.

The number of British workers on zero-hours contracts has jumped rapidly – rising to near-record levels in the last three months.

New figures showed unemployment had risen by 31,000 to 1.33 million in the last three months, the highest number since 2017.

And the number of workers in zero-hours contracts increased to 896,000 – up 15% from 791,000 a year ago.

It shows a return to the levels last seen in 2016, when concerns grew over people being exploited by uncertain work.

Source: Zero-hours contracts skyrocket to near record levels in new employment figures – Mirror Online

Tory hypocrisy over Archbishop’s intervention in employment politics


It was the most overtly political speech from an Archbishop of Canterbury for many years (although incumbent Justin Welby, and others, have often commented on individual issues before). Here’s part of it:

https://twitter.com/AaronBastani/status/1039888161634234368

The Archbishop’s attack on Universal Credit and zero-hours contracts was welcomed by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who was mentioned in Justin Welby’s speech.

Mr McDonnell said: “The Archbishop of Canterbury has set out a bold vision for a different society, one without the evils of the gig economy, the exploitation of workers and tax dodging of the multinationals.

“I welcome his speech, and the growing movement against the failures of austerity and neoliberalism. Labour will end zero hours contracts, clamp down on the tax avoiders, and ensure everyone has access to sick pay, parental leave and protections at work.”

But – oh dear – just look at the hypocrisy from the Conservative Party.

Days after Tories supported former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in his highly-political attack on the Labour Party over the anti-Semitism row that has been fabricated against it, they were lining up to condemn the Archbishop for what they said was interference in politics.

Tory MP Ben Bradley tweeted: ‘Not clear to me when or how it can possibly be appropriate for the Archbishop of Canterbury to be appearing at TUC conference or parroting Labour policy.’

He added: ‘There are a diversity of views as to what is best for the economy, but [he] only seems interested in presenting John McDonnell’s point of view.’

Mr Bradley is, of course, famous for tweeting a lie about Jeremy Corbyn that resulted in the most-publicised apology ever to appear on Twitter.

Of course there was no way the hypocrisy would go unnoticed. This is just one example of the responses:

And the Archbishop? He said in his speech that he would make no apology for discussing politics. “The Bible is political from one end to the other,” he said.

His intervention is to be welcomed.

The Church of England is often seen as a haven for Conservatives and it will be interesting to see what happens to those Tories’ attitudes, considering this new direction from the pulpit.

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Your at-a-glance guide to John McDonnell’s barnstorming conference speech

John McDonnell, delivering his speech to the Labour conference.

The least that can be said about it is that it will give the Tories plenty to deride at their own conference.

The reason the above is the least that can be said is, Tories ALWAYS try to ridicule Labour policies. Then they proudly announce a load of nonsense rubbish, get their friends in the right-wing media to push it as the only realistic option, dupe enough of the nation into supporting them at a general election and we end up – well, we end up in the mess we’re in today.

As a result of this Tory stupidity, the UK is not so much a proud island nation voyaging to new horizons as a leaky, sinking boat, weighed down by fatted passengers, who expect a malnourished crew to bail them out – using punctured buckets.

Those Tory speeches haven’t happened yet, so let’s enjoy Mr McDonnell’s words while we can. He was certainly correct that it has been Labour’s historic role to lead the UK into each new era, and if he gets the chance to execute the plan he has outlined, Labour will fulfil that duty again.

In This Writer’s opinion, he identified all the right issues. Whether he came up with the right answers is up for debate, but his choices certainly seemed popular with the party rank-and-file.

If you didn’t catch the speech and want to know what his proposals were, here they are:

  • Creation of a Strategic Investment Board, to put money into key research projects, employment and wages, with fair distribution of investment across the UK.
  • Supporting entrepreneurs, small businesses, the genuinely self-employed and massively expanding worker control and the co-operative sector.
  • Re-nationalising rail, water, energy, and the Royal Mail.
  • Crossrail to be built in the north; HS2 extended into Scotland. Midlands Connect to overhaul transport there. Electrified railway lines from Cornwall to London.
  • Investment in the zero-carbon economy, for example the Swansea Tidal Lagoon.
  • Full protection of the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in other EU countries, and a promise to give Tories “the political battle of their lives” if they try to water down or undermine protections on employment, consumer or environmental rights.
  • Close the tax loopholes and avoidance scams used by the mega-rich, making sure the rich and the giant corporations pay their way, to pay for public services.
  • Scrap the public sector pay cap; introduce the real Living Wage at £10 per hour; introduce pay ratios at the top; and address the gender pay gap.
  • Restore basic employment rights, repeal the Tories Trade Union Act, set up a new Ministry of Labour and restore collective bargaining.
  • Cap credit card debt.
  • Scrap tuition fees.
  • End Private Finance Initiative deals and bring those that currently exist “back in-house”.

He wrapped up by saying, “The Tories have tried to change people’s view of what is normal and acceptable in our society. They want us to accept that in the fifth richest country in the world it’s normal and acceptable for people to be saddled with debt; for people to have to work long, often insecure, hours, stressed out, struggling to find time with their family; for people not to have a pay rise for years no matter how dedicated you are or how hard you work; for young people to have no prospect of owning their own home; for disabled people to be pushed to the edge by the benefits system; or for carers to be struggling without support or recognition.

“Let’s make it clear – we will never accept that this is normal or acceptable.”

So which do you prefer? The Tory version of “normal or acceptable”? Or the Labour alternative?

I know which I’d rather have – but is it really possible?


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This is Theresa May’s excuse for saying unemployment is at an all-time low

The only reason Theresa May was able to say unemployment was at its lowest since the mid-1970s, as she did in Prime Minister’s Questions today (September 13) is this:

The Department for Work and Pensions has been forcing jobseekers to take work on zero-hours contracts, meaning they may be employed for only three hours a week but would still be off the benefit books.

This means the government is pushing vulnerable people into debt, with the attendant problems of stress and ill-health that come with them – storing up problems for the future, in fact.

It is small-minded and short-sighted. One can only assume that Mrs May thinks a Labour government will have to handle these problems when the public finally loses any and all patience with her party’s absolute and utter inability to run a country properly.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has admitted that it is using the controversial benefits sanctions regime to force unemployed and low-paid workers into insure and exploitative zero-hours jobs.

Zero hours contracts notoriously offer no guarantee of hours and lack many of the employment rights enjoyed by people in full-time and part-time employment.

The shocking revelation was exposed following a written parliamentary question at Westminster, to which the DWP Minister for Employment Damian Hinds MP admitted: “If there is no good reason that a Universal Credit claimant cannot take a zero-hours contract job they may be sanctioned for not doing so.”

Universal Credit is replacing a number of existing social security benefits and tax credits with one single monthly payment, and has faced strong criticism from opposition parties and charities alike.

The flagship new benefit is gradually being rolled out across the UK, despite growing concerns that deep-rooted flaws in the system may push low income families into debt and closer to eviction.

Yesterday, the charity Citizens Advice warned that plans to accelerate the roll-out of Universal Credit are “a disaster waiting to happen“, explaining that is likely to push low income households into a financial crisis.

Source: DWP using benefit sanctions to force claimants into zero hours jobs, Tory minister admits


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Cameron’s lies show he must go NOW, not later – and all the other Tories with him

The message is: The UK is huge. Cameron is small. His Tory party is smaller still. They are not strong. He is not a leader.

The message is: The UK is huge. Cameron is small. His Tory party is smaller still. They are not strong. He is not a leader.

David Cameron took to the stage and lied bare-faced to a no-doubt hand-picked audience of hired-handclaps in the finale of one of the most heavily stage-managed – read fake – Conservative Party conferences in history.

Not for the Tories, the open debate and honest disagreements of Labour! Even Boris Johnson’s dissent over tax credits was a cynical piece of attempted-press-manipulation (he voted in favour of the plan to cut tax credits a few weeks ago).

So Cameron mouthed a series of lies, platitudes and nonsenses similar to those of George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith on Monday and Tuesday.

“The British people are decent, sensible, reasonable, and they just want a government that supports the vulnerable, backs those who do the right thing and helps them get on in life. Good jobs; a decent home; better childcare; controlled immigration; lower taxes so there’s more money at the end of the month; an NHS that’s there for them, seven days a week; great schools; dignity in retirement,” he said – and that’s probably about right. But then he said: “That is what people want and that is what we will deliver.” A monstrous lie.

Cameron’s government:

  • Attacks the vulnerable (look at tax credits if you like, or the row over the many deaths of incapacity benefits claimants that could have been avoided if Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith had wanted to);
  • Backs tax fraudsters (the HSBC scandal);
  • Offers poor, zero-hours-contract jobs;
  • Pushes the poor out of their homes (bedroom tax).
  • The UK has been rocked by huge paedophile scandals on Cameron’s watch;
  • The Conservatives have failed to control immigration;
  • Lower taxes mean fewer public services because the money isn’t there to pay for them. The main beneficiaries are the very rich;
  • The NHS is facing its biggest-ever crisis thanks to Tory mismanagement – which is all part of Cameron’s plan;
  • Our schools are being sold off to private companies who intend to profit from them – your child’s education is of secondary interest; and
  • The Tories are being encouraged to cut benefits for pensioners – who will either be dead by 2020 (because of the removal of their benefits?) or will have forgotten who robbed them.

So Cameron’s first claim about the joy of Conservative government was a tenfold lie. It’s impressive – for all the wrong reasons.

And he knows he’s on shaky ground now. A new power has risen in the Labour Party to challenge the basis on which Cameron’s policies are founded – and did exactly that, on the doorstep of the Tory conference, this week.

So Cameron attacked Jeremy Corbyn with all the venom he could muster: “Thousands of words have been written about the new Labour leader. But you only really need to know one thing: he thinks the death of Osama bin Laden was a ‘tragedy. No. A tragedy is nearly 3,000 people murdered one morning in New York.” He was saying that Jeremy Corbyn is soft on terrorists and unsympathetic to their victims. Another lie.

Jeremy Corbyn wanted Osama Bin Laden to face justice for his many crimes. He wanted the man to pay for all the deaths he caused, and he wanted the terrorist alive to provide details of his network of co-conspirators.

By attacking Corbyn’s stance, David Cameron was in fact saying that both he and the Conservative Party support the murder of Bin Laden, rather than his capture, and that they are glad Bin Laden’s co-conspirators were allowed to continue, in freedom – perhaps to form IS or Boko Haram.

But we all knew that Cameron is a liar.

So here’s a statement that he made in the belief that it is true (we have to assume he intended to lie with the others): “I’m starting the second half of my time in this job.”

For the good of the United Kingdom – and the wider world – we must work hard to turn that statement into a lie.

Cameron doesn’t deserve to be Prime Minister of Britain for the next five minutes, let alone the next five years.

But the only way to get him out is to attack him, on every level, at all times, and all together.

Expecting someone else to do the heavy lifting won’t be any good at all.

So why not start by reading Cameron’s speech – The Guardian has a transcript here – and then getting in touch with your local newspapers, MP, TV stations, and Cameron himself and raising any or all of the moments at which he lied to the nation.

Put them all on notice. We know they are not to be trusted.

We know they have to go.

We have to make sure that happens soon.

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Another sick Tory joke: Zero-hours contracts for civil servants

Somebody should remind the Conservative Party of the old adage that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

We certainly have monkeys running the UK government at the moment, because more than 80,000 full-time civil servants have left their jobs since the Conservatives started their reign of idiocy in 2010.

Now you know why nothing works properly.

The Tories actually thought it was a good idea to get rid of the people who actually know how to run government properly – Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Gove have been particularly keen on this.

Now, despite planning to get rid of a further 80,000 experienced and intelligent public servants – and thereby plunge the United Kingdom further into their new Dark Age, the Tories have started re-hiring some of the old hands they have already laid off.

Here’s the catch: They’re coming back on zero-hours contracts.

At one level, this might seem a good idea. Zero-hours work was always intended for people who had made their money already and merely wanted something productive to do in their spare time.

But no formerly-senior civil servant with any self-respect should be taking it up because they should know they are worth more – and because zero-hours work has been tarnished by the abuses of such contracts to harm the prospects of the genuinely poor.

This Blog predicts the only people taking up the offer will be ideological Conservatives, who will blindly follow the Tory line without advising on any better alternatives because they believe in it, and those who need the money and will do what they’re told for fear of losing it.

That will not give us good government.

Retired and redundant civil servants are being re-recruited to government jobs under a pilot scheme launched by the Cabinet Office. Some former staff are being re-employed using zero-hours contracts when full-time employees cannot cope with the workload, a leaked document shows.

The disclosure of the pilot, dubbed by opponents as a “Dad’s Army” solution to Whitehall’s staffing crisis, comes as mandarins brace themselves for further cuts. More than 80,000 full-time civil servants have left their jobs since 2010 with a similar number expected to leave during the current parliament.

Source: Government scheme to rehire former civil servants on zero-hours contracts | Politics | The Guardian

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Cameron’s delight: school pupils suffering ‘Victorian conditions’

15022013m-in-poverty-half-in-working-households_JRF

Don’t you just hate it when politicians rig the statistics to show ‘facts’ that are demonstrably untrue?

According to the Conservative Party, the number of children in poverty has fallen by 300,000 under the Coalition Government – but poverty is measured as a percentage of average income; when the nation’s average income drops, poverty is said to have dropped as well, even though this is clearly untrue.

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, “Those with less than 60 per cent of median income are classified as poor. This ‘poverty line’ is the agreed international measure used throughout the European Union.”

Here in the UK, wages have suffered their longest-sustained fall for no less than 150 years.

Average incomes in the years up to 2012. Source: ONS.

Average incomes in the years up to 2012. This is the most up-to-date graph I have. Source: ONS.

So no wonder the BBC and the Mirror are reporting that children are arriving at school in “Victorian squalor”. This is what the Coalition Government wants.

The BBC reported: “Claims about poverty in the school-age population will be heard at the NASUWT teachers’ union annual conference in Cardiff. The union asked members for their experiences and received almost 2,500 responses. It was not a representative sample of teachers, but among those replying more than two in three reported seeing pupils come to school hungry.

“Almost one in four of the teachers who responded said they had brought in food for pupils who were hungry, and an even higher proportion had seen the school feeding pupils.

“More than three in four had seen pupils arriving at school with “inappropriate clothing” such as no socks or coats in bad weather.

“Similar numbers claimed that a bad diet meant that pupils were unable to concentrate on their work.”

The Liberal Democrats said they had helped families by introducing free school meals for all infant children. That’s the caring side of the Coalition Government for you. Rather than sort out the underlying problems – that they created – they put a patch on it and say it’s solved.

Meanwhile, a Tory spokesman said – get this: “Because of our policies, there are more jobs than ever before, wages are rising faster than prices and with the lowest inflation on record, family budgets are starting to go further. The NASUWT should recognise how the Conservatives have rescued the economy, and through that, delivering the jobs that secure a better future for families.”

Jobs that pay far too little to make any real difference – 28 per cent of them are on insecure zero-hours contracts.

Who do these selfish toffs think they’re fooling?

130617childpoverty

We must get rid of them before they cause any more harm to our children.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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