Zero Hour Contracts: Take them or Leave them

11th August 2013

With around one million workers on zero-hour contracts (over four times the amount previously estimated), it seems that the figures of employment released by the government have to be questioned. I myself hold a zero-hour contract, and although I do get sick and holiday pay, my hours are never guaranteed. This is fantastic news for Ian Duncan-Smith, for I am another university graduate who is ‘employed’. The reality is that I cannot plan on whether I can go to the local pub, so I cannot even start to imagine how hard it would be to live with children whilst holding a zero-hours contract.

This is in fact what Steven Nolan said to me when I phoned in to speak on his Radio Five Live show. One of his guests was an American who seemed to promote the idea of zero-hours. He stated that people don’t have to take these contracts, so they shouldn’t moan as they have a job. Well, I’m not sure if the gentleman was aware, but there is somewhat a shortage of jobs in this country since the financial crisis of 2008, and there does not seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel as of yet. How on earth a wealthy man could sit there and say “Be thankful for that contract” is beyond me. It is not the worker that caused this financial mess; it was the overinflated financial centre in London, which eventually burst with devastating consequences world-wide.

Whilst talking to the American guest on Steven’s show he asked me why a company would employ me to sit there and ‘twiddle my thumbs’ whilst losing money. Whilst it is true that the restaurant that I work in can have quiet periods, I only need to have sold four two course meals in order to have paid for my wages for that shift.

I went on to say that I was doing them a favour by working for the company. The American guest seemed flummoxed, how could I be doing them a favour? Fair point, they pay my wages, but that company put up an advert for a job, I applied, got the interview, and got the job. They needed someone to do a certain set of tasks, and I fulfil that role. They pay me for a reason, and it seems that employers tend to forget that. I had offers from many different places, yet I chose to work for them, and for that I would like to feel that I am valued.

I thoroughly enjoyed talking about something I feel strongly about on the radio, and the overall feel I got was that Mr Nolan was sympathetic, whilst the American guest cared only about the companies, and not the workers. The same guest also disputed the numbers claimed by The Independant about the victims of the bedroom tax, so my overall impression was that he fully supported the policies of the British government.

Let’s hope that the news coverage, and the opposition from some MP’s of the Con-Dem government puts an end to these degrading zero-hour contracts, for it means that workers’ rights have gone back to the Victorian era.

James Evans
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