Aug 15th, 2013
Zero hours: Vince Cable
By Robin Priestley
In the past two weeks 38 Degrees members have shown the strength of our opposition to zero hours contracts. We’ve kept it at the top of the news agenda by sending over 125,000 emails to Sports Direct – a big user of the controversial contracts – and funding a legal test case to take them to court.
But this is only the start – now we need to take on the government too.
Business minister Vince Cable has the power to change zero hours contracts so big businesses won’t be able to exploit employees. But he’s dragging his heels, and only ‘reviewing’ the situation internally.
The internal investigation finishes at the end of August, so we need to act now. If thousands of us sign the petition and tell Vince Cable why zero hours contracts need to be changed, he’ll see how important this issue is. Vince Cable is sitting on the fence and hasn’t yet committed to a public consultation, so a huge petition might just be enough to convince him.
No-one seems to know how common zero hours contracts are. But recent estimates have suggested that up to a million people could be employed on them. Vince Cable has said the main issue is when people are tied exclusively to one employer. But there are many more problems, like no holiday pay, no sick pay and employers using contracts to threaten workers by cutting shifts.
Something is clearly wrong when contracts that should be a rare exception are so widespread.
38 Degrees members have written over 125,000 emails to Sports Direct demanding they treat their staff properly and over 13,000 chipped in to help fund the legal case. Thousands of us have shared our experience of the contracts, showing how widespread the problems and exploitation are. Together, we are showing big businesses we won’t stand for exploitation in the workplace. Now it’s time to turn our fire on the people making the law, and ensure that they protect hard-working people.
If enough of us sign the petition and explain why sorting out zero hours contracts is so important, it might be enough to push Vince Cable into launching a proper public consultation so everyone’s views can be heard. Let’s force him to listen to the public on this important issue.