Zero-hour contracts and hand to mouth misery

Zero-hour contracts and hand to mouth misery

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Scrap Zero Hour Contracts!

We carry below an article by a young worker based in Coventry regarding his experiences in precarious jobs on low pay. The article was originally printed in The Socialist, the weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party. To subscribe to The Socialist, click here

By Dan Smart

Life on low pay and precarious contracts is a hand-to-mouth existence. You are forced to live from week to week with little ability to plan for the future.

When you aren’t told the hours you will be working that week until the day before, it can feel like walking a tightrope. It might be 60 hours, or just six.

Questions are always on your mind – will the rent get paid this month? Will I be able to afford to pay the bills and do the food shop?

Not being able to plan in advance also makes having a social life difficult. Living for the moment becomes a necessity.

The sort of job I previously saw as a temporary interlude, before moving onto something more secure and rewarding, has become the long-term prospect. As bosses look for more ways of cutting costs and maximising profits, workers’ pay and conditions are driven into the dirt. The options are becoming more limited, with insecure and zero-hour contracts becoming the norm.

I have experienced many jobs working under these conditions. At Tesco’s cafe, I was told I would get no more hours for a fortnight and that I could expect a call to let me know when I would be working again.

The call never came, and it turned out I had unofficially been sacked. The contract made it impossible for me to dispute the decision, and made it more convenient and less embarrassing for management.

The working atmosphere is often very competitive. Even for such low-paid work, we are required to battle fiercely for shifts.

This is highly beneficial to employers, as it makes people work harder and keep their heads down. It makes unionisation particularly difficult, as workers struggle to hold on to the little they have, not wanting to take any risks. With these divide and rule tactics, workers compete with their colleagues rather than organising collectively.

Exhausting

You often end up with the contradictory situation of some scraping by on barely any hours, while others work an exhausting amount. I have known workers to take 17 hour shifts (these were split shifts, which nevertheless have the added annoyance of leaving you waiting around for hours unpaid).

And at an agency I was with, they ask people to meet at 4.30am, to travel for hours unpaid, and work a 12 hour shift. Then do the same again the next day!

There are numerous other examples of poor working conditions I have witnessed. Friends turning up for shifts in the morning just to be sent home. Managers refusing to use people’s names, instead referring to them as ‘agency one’ and so on. And impossible targets resulting in an incredibly high turnover of staff.

Many young workers’ expectations of the working environment are far too low. We need to start getting organised now to demand decent pay, at least £10 an hour, and a quality standard of living.

The struggles in the US for $15 an hour and the fast food workers strikes are fantastic examples of how we can get organised, struggle and win!


The Socialist Party calls for:

  • A minimum wage of £10 an hour as a step towards a real living wage
  • No exemptions – a living wage for all, regardless of age
  • For an annual increase in the minimum wage linked to the real cost of living
  • End the pay freeze now
  • End zero-hour contracts and all forced under-employment
  • Investment in a massive programme to create socially useful jobs
  • All workers, including part-timers, temps, casual and migrant workers to have trade union rates of pay, employment protection, and sickness and holiday rights from day one of employment

 

Shocking figures expose poverty pay in Coventry

Shocking figures expose poverty pay in Coventry

Low pay in Coventry

Low pay in Coventry

Figures reported by the Coventry Telegraph today have exposed the extent of low pay in our city.

The report showed that according to government figures around 26,000 people, or nearly 1 in 5 of those in work in 2014, were earning less than the living wage of £7.65 per hour.

Low pay, linked to the proliferation of zero hour contracts and casualised work combined with the recent and future job losses will further exacerbate growing inequality in the city. Tory cuts to tax credits will drag ever more people in to the race to the bottom.

It also exposes the claim from the leadership of Coventry City Council including Labour councillors who boast regularly that Coventry is going to be a ‘top ten city’. A ‘top ten city’, but for whom? Is it a ‘top ten city’ for those 18,000 people who rely on foodbanks or for those trying to survive on less than the living wage (though we would also ask who could actually live on the 2015 living wage rate of £7.85 per hour?) Is it a ‘top ten city’ for those who can’t get decent housing and are driven in to the hands of landlords charging exorbitant rent?

Or is it a top ten city for businesses wanting to make more profit on the back of a low wage workforce who do not know when they working from one week to the next?

We have outlined previously an alternative for Coventry, and what councillors could be doing to lead a fight back in the city. We would encourage people to look at this by clicking here

The situation is only going to get worse as the Council add to over 1,000 people it has already made redundant in the last 5 years with further massive cuts expected to take place in the near future.

It is a far cry from the not so distant past in Coventry. Coventry had one of the highest wage rates in the country. The need to rebuild trade union organisation across the city is paramount. Companies and organisations can’t be allowed to get away with poverty pay and the use of zero hour contracts.

This isn’t just a Coventry problem. Across the country and indeed the world there is a race to the bottom as companies and governments of the 1 per cent attempt to make ordinary people pay for the capitalist economic crisis. The logic of the system is to drive down wages as well the workplace rights of working class people to make more profit. This needs to be challenged – we need a massive fight for a £10 per hour minimum wage, decent and secure jobs and housing for all. This should be linked to the fight to get rid of this crisis ridden capitalist system. If you agree with us, we encourage you to join us

 

 

 

 

End poverty pay – we need a real living wage now!

End poverty pay!

 we need a real living wage now!

The Con-Dems say we’re in a ‘recovery’. Well, it doesn’t feel that way to most of us.

While bankers get their fat-cat bonuses & pay, the real value of pay for the rest of us has fallen 7% since 2008. Since 2010 there has only been one month when average pay didn’t fall – A month skewed by the bankers’ getting their bonuses!

Tory Chancellor George Osborne has floated a rise from the current rate of £6.31 to £7 an hour. But this doesn’t even reach the ‘living wage’ of £7.65. An hourly rate set independently & updated annually according to basic costs of living.

min wage

Today the minimum wage is at its lowest level in real terms since 2004. Millions of workers struggle by. Labour talk about a cost of living crisis – but propose nothing concrete!

 Socialists stand & fight for a minimum wage that is enough to live on – No exemptions!

The Socialist Party says:

  • Fight for a minimum wage of £8 an hour – no exemptions! As an immediate step towards £10 an hour
  • All workers, including part-timers, temps, casual & migrant workers to have trade union rates of pay, employment protection, sickness & holiday rights from day one of employment
  • Reject ‘workfare’. For the right to decent benefits, education, training, or a job, without compulsion
  • Scrap the anti-trade union laws! For fighting trade unions, democratically controlled by their members
  • A maximum 35-hour week with no loss of pay

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Obscene wealth!

A recent report by Oxfam revealed that the World’s 85 richest people have same wealth as the 3.5 billion poorest!

We need a Socialist Alternative to end this crazy capitalist system!

Join the Socialist Party do it!

The Socialist Party meets around Coventry every week on Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday nights,  7.30.  Get in touch for info, about meetings or joining the Socialist Party.

phone/text 07530 429441    coventrysocialistparty@gmail.com

   http://www.coventrysocialists.wordpress.com    www.socialistparty.org.uk