‘Zero hour contracts’ abusing Skegness workers claim

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A Skegness councillor is ‘astonished’ that low hour contracts exist and feels that workers in Skegness are being ‘abused’ and ‘exploited’.

Coun Phil Kemp expressed his concern regarding ‘zero contracts’ calling for the Government to bring in appropriate legislation to resolve the issue.

Proposing at last night’s full Skegness Town Council meeting, Coun Kemp put forward: ‘This council recognises the current widespread usage of ‘zero’ or very low hours for employment contracts for staff, and calls upon the Government to bring in appropriate legislation to counter this damaging practice’.

Coun Steve Kirk agreed that the problem with zero hour contracts was the issue of exclusion - meaning an employee could not work for another company while on this type of contract.

He likened the contracts to ‘the work of the devil’ and could not understand why they were ‘morally justifiable’.

He said the town council must ‘lobby hard to the district council, county council and the MP’.

Coun Mark Anderson, also fully supported the motion, he agreed that six, eight, 10 or 12 hour contracts on minimum wage was not enough to support a family and would bring them back onto ‘social security’.

However, Coun Carl Macey didn’t agree that all were unhappy, saying students were glad to work those hours and were happy with ‘this sort of thing’.

Coun Steve O’Dare expressed that he thought there were two sides to this debate, referring to the employer and employee.

“A nought hour contract is a colloquial term... there’s no minimum. An eight hour means eight hours per week. Employees might want more days.”

Coun O’Dare urged that it was about transparency and an employee must understand what was meant by a ‘zero hour contract’.

He agreed that in some instances, such a bank staff in a nursing profession, a zero hour contract was useful.

Coun O’Dare also explained to the council that a Private Members’ Bill was due to go for a second reading in Parliament in January 2014.

However, Coun Mark Anderson warned that the problem in Skegness was the Department for Work and Pensions getting people on these types on contracts.

“The Department for Work and Pensions is pushing people to zero hour contracts,” he said. It is totally wrong and puts families at risk,” he added.

Coun Kemp added: It’s our town that’s suffering, residents are being abused and need better contracts. They deserve a bit of respect.”

The council agreed to write letters lobbying East Lindsey District Council, Lincolnshire County Council to tackle the problem.

Is there enough transparency? Are you on a zero hour contract? What do you think? Email amy.gallivan@jpress.co.uk