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Friday, August 09, 2013

Labour caught out on zero hour contracts

Go figure! After going public in a big way in opposition to zero hours contracts, including a number of questions and interventions in the Welsh Assembly, Labour have been caught out again.

The Financial Times reports that Labour-run councils across the UK are among the many local authorities using zero-hours contracts as they aim to cut staffing costs in response to Whitehall’s austerity drive.

The paper says that six Labour-controlled councils in London, Tower Hamlets, Brent, Ealing, Merton, Hounslow and Newham, use workers on contracts with no guaranteed hours, while Labour-run Doncaster estimates it has 300 people working under such arrangements:

While private sector employers have been singled out for heavy use of contracts with no guaranteed hours, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has said zero-hours contracts are more prevalent among public sector employers.

“A higher proportion of public sector employers use these contracts than the private sector,” said Mark Beatson, chief economist at the CIPD, which this week claimed that up to 1m workers in the UK could be on contracts with no guaranteed hours.

That suggests more than 200,000 people working in a variety of public sector jobs – from care home workers to further-education college lecturers – could be employed on such contracts. The business department, which is conducting a review into zero-hours contracts, said it did not have data on the prevalence of zero-hours working within the public sector.

The article points out that Labour has been careful not to condemn zero-hours contracts outright, with Chris Leslie, shadow Treasury secretary, saying the party wanted to take an “evidence-based approach” to the issue. But the practice is deeply unpopular with many Labour MPs and union supporters. Andy Burnham, shadow health secretary, has denounced the practice and called on Labour to ban such contracts if the party wins the next election.

That is all very well but the vehemence with which many Labour politicians have gone at this issue leave many of them open to a charge of hupocrisy given then facts. Once more Labour have been caught out in pure oppositionism.
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