Sunderland MP slams ‘zero-hour’ contracts

Julie Elliott
Julie Elliott
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A WEARSIDE MP has condemned the Government for failing to tackle controversial ‘zero-hours’ contracts.

Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced a new consultation on the contracts, which tie workers to an employer but do not offer guaranteed hours of work.

The Government will seek views on whether a change in the law is required to ban so-called exclusivity clauses which prevent staff from working elsewhere even when they have not been given any work.

But Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott accused the Government of time-wasting.

She said: “Having long campaigned to get the Government to act to end the abuses of zero-hours contracts and stop vulnerable workers being exploited, I am very disappointed at the announcement today.

“They have now launched a consultation, having already held a review – how much more evidence does this Government need before they act to stop the exploitation of a million workers in this country?

“A Labour Government would ban employers from insisting zero-hours workers be available even when there is no guarantee of any work, stop zero-hours contracts that require workers to work exclusively for one business and end the misuse of zero-hours contracts where employees are in practice working regular hours over a sustained period.

“We need to build an economy that works for working people because a recovery that only benefits a few at the top is not only unfair, but also unstable.

“Hard-working people should feel confident and secure at work; ending the exploitative use of zero-hours contracts is an integral part of achieving this.”

Mr Cable said zero-hours contracts suited some people because of the flexibility they offer.

He said: “We believe they have a place in today’s labour market and are not proposing to ban them outright, but we also want to make sure that people are getting a fair deal.

“Employers need flexible workforces and people should have the choice in how they work. But this shouldn’t be at the expense of fairness and transparency.”