Latest ONS figures show part-time workers, women and young people at highest risk from wage insecurity
Growth of zero-hours, minimum wage and agency working reflects ‘race-to-the-bottom’ economic policies
September 8th: Responding to a release by the Office of National Statistics which showed a sharp rise in the number of UK employees working on Zero Hours contracts, Ireland Regional Secretary for Unite Jimmy Kelly said:
“Today’s statistics show a dramatic rise in the number of UK employees working on zero-hours contracts to more than 900,000. Indeed, the regional breakdown shows that more than 15,500 workers in Northern Ireland now have no security about the minimum number of hours they will work in any given week.
“The ONS figures confirm that of those on zero hours contracts 55% are women, 36% are aged 16 to 24, and 20% are part-time; by comparison, of those with a guaranteed minimum hour contract, 45% are women, 12% aged 16-24 and only 2% part-time workers. Furthermore, these contracts seem particularly pervasive in Food and Accommodation-related Service sectors.
“How can a young person consider taking first steps towards raising a family or buying a house when they don’t even know how much they will earn even a week ahead.
“Workers with dependents on zero-hours contracts are often given little notice of hours to be worked. They are expected to drop everything, find carers and rush to work whenever the boss tells them they’re needed. Employees can be left with no hours at all some weeks but can’t claim benefits due to their employment status. What’s more, these contracts can be used to punish workers who are trade unionists or whose face ‘doesn’t fit’ for any reason.
“This is not the future of work we want to see. Sadly the rapid expansion of the use of zero-hour contracts shows that rapacious bosses are keen to ratchet up the exploitation of workers by any means necessary.
“Unite is calling on the Northern Ireland Executive to follow the example of New Zealand and ban these inherently exploitative contracts. They have a choice. Do they want to engage in an unwinnable race-to-the-bottom on workers conditions, meaning more low-wage, part-time casual working, or will they invest in growing a high-value added economy providing decent and secure employment for all”, Mr Kelly concluded.