ED Miliband’s “Victorian management practices” speech reveals a gap, the width of the Grand Canyon, in politicians’ and media commentators’ understanding of what the reality is of being on a zero-hours contract.
In my own case for example: at the end of September, I signed with an agency to do regular night shifts with a major supermarket chain. I was given the assurance that this supermarket chain “does not do zero hours contracts” and neither did this agency apparently.
Four weeks into my contract, of a guaranteed minimum of three shifts a week, the agency, by daily text message, cancelled eight consecutive shifts that I had been due to work. With my last wage being for only two days worked the previous week and no surety of future income, I was forced to immediately re-apply for JSA, and Housing Benefit. All that on top of threats and intimidation from my landlord.
From November 4-17, I had precisely one week’s JSA to subsist on. From my Christian standpoint, zero-hours contracts are utterly morally abhorrent.
Some 200 years ago, politicians and informed opinion dithered and delayed inexcusably over the abolition of slavery. Zero-hours contracts must be abolished, not 10 years from now, but now.