MP Nandy in new zero hours blast

Staff from the Hovis factory, New Springs
Staff from the Hovis factory, New Springs
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WIGAN’S MP has delivered a strong new demand for a clamp down on the “national scandal” of zero-hours contracts.

Lisa Nandy used a Parliamentary debate to call on the Government to end the “exploitation of workers” on the increasingly controversial employment terms.

She was praised by the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union for her support of the New Springs Hovis Workers during the recent dispute about the alleged casualisation of the workforce at the Cale Lane plant.

The MP said that a time that when families are facing the biggest fall in living standards since Victorian times, Labour had called a special debate in the Commons demanding action to stop rising insecurity at work through the exploitative use of zero-hours contracts.

Ms Nandy supported the strike action by the bakery workers which led to a pledge to bring an end to the use of zero hours contracts at the site.

But according to recent estimates there could be as many as one million workers employed on zero-hours contracts – with a big increase since the Tory-led government took office – and they are now used in one in five workplaces.

The Tory-led government, she charged, had failed to act on zero-hours contracts.

And it has now emerged that a review of the issue initiated by business secretary Vince Cable earlier this year consisted of “just three officials” spending part of their time “speaking informally” with stakeholders.

In contrast, she said, last month Labour 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.

The party is also stopping zero-hours contracts that require workers to work exclusively for one firm and is also committed to ending the misuse of zero hours contracts where employees are in practice working regular hours over a sustained period.

They would also put in place a code of practice on the use of zero-hours contracts.

Ms Nandy said: “Under David Cameron we have seen rising insecurity at work, compounding the living standards crisis that families in Wigan are facing.

“In the last year I have been contacted by home care workers, factory workers and young people who are stranded on zero hours contracts.

“The exploitation of zero-hours contracts has become a national scandal.

“They cause insecurity and uncertainty for too many families in Wigan and the Government must act to put an end to their exploitative use.”

Strike action at Wigan’s famous Hovis bakery was called off in late September after an agreement was reached over contracts following two week-long walkouts and on the eve of a third bout of industrial action.

Members of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) hailed the climb down as a “victory”.