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Usdaw Conference ’18 Retail workers call for a ban on zero-hours contracts

RETAIL workers called for a ban on zero-hours contracts tpday, condemning the number of insecurely employed workers as “absolutely unjustifiable.”

Usdaw delegates condemned the fact that about 2.3 million workers are on zero-hours contracts or reliant on agency work.

The conference called for employers to offer a 16-hour minimum working week and instructed the union’s executive council to lobby to make zero-hours contracts illegal.

Delegates pointed out that more than 25 per cent of casually employed workers have been on zero-hours contracts for more than five years, while 40 per cent of “part-time” workers want full-time work but cannot get it.

The union highlighted the financial and mental problems that result from workplace precarity, instead demanding strengthened collective bargaining rights and a ban on zero-hours contracts.

It also expressed disappointment with last year’s Taylor Review of modern working practices, which leaders called an “ideal opportunity” to address issues of precarity — but which “fell short of recommending” the right for workers to gain a contract.

General secretary John Hannett said that “it is absolutely unjustifiable that millions are not guaranteed any working hours from one week to the next.

“To solve the problems faced by workers, there is a clear need to tackle insecure work practices.

“Usdaw is clear that the government shouldn’t merely target people into work but that the economy should be structured so that people might find employment with appropriate terms and conditions.

“If we’re not vigilant, if we’re not prepared to argue and fight, then the bad employers will see it as weakness. We will not be passive.”

Speaking for the 16-hour minimum contract, Glasgow delegate Richie Venton termed workplace casualisation “the curse of the modern working class.”

Highlighting the vast numbers of casualised workplaces across all industries, Mr Venton blamed workplace insecurity for causing personal misery and “furthering the dictatorship of capital over labour.”

Croydon delegate Tina Wright labelled precarious employment as “exploitative, unfair and unjust.”

And Fallowfield delegate Heather Neagle told delegates that Prime Minister Theresa May has “continued in the great Conservative tradition of failing to help working people,” accusing the government of encouraging workplace exploitation.

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