Andrew Smith MP

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Calls to end exploitative zero-hours contracts

NEWS_POST21.jpgAndrew Smith MP has backed calls for action to end the exploitation of workers on zero-hours contracts.

At a time when families are facing the biggest living standards crisis in a generation, Labour called a special debate in Parliament yesterday demanding action to stop rising insecurity at work under David Cameron, including through the exploitive use of zero-hours contracts.

According to recent estimates there could be as many as 1 million workers employed on zero-hours contracts - with a big increase since the Lib Dem / Tory coalition government took office - and they are now used in one in five workplaces.

The coalition has failed to act on zero-hours contracts. It emerged that a 'review' of the issue initiated by Business Secretary Vince Cable earlier this year consisted of three officials spending part of their time "speaking informally" with stakeholders.

In contrast, last month Ed Miliband announced plans to ban exploitative zero-hours contracts by:

* Banning employers from insisting that those on zero-hours contracts are available even when there is no guarantee of any work; 
* Stopping zero-hours contracts that require workers to work exclusively for one firm 
* Ending the misuse of zero hours contracts where employees are in practice working regular hours over a sustained period.
* Putting in place a code of practice on the use of zero-hours contracts

Andrew said: "I am strongly concerned by these contracts which are becoming increasingly common as a way of imbalancing the relationship between employers and employees, making jobs much less secure. While there are a few jobs that obviously do require very flexible ways of working, there is no excuse for the wholesale use of "zero hours" contracts that we are seeing."

"An important distinction has to be drawn between those jobs where workers agree to a zero-hours contract because it really does suit their own need for flexibility and where it is being imposed against their will. I have spoken out in the Commons against the use of zero-hours contracts for social care staff where non-payment of travel time and costs means they are effectively being paid below the minimum wage."

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