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Huge demand for government to take action on workers’ rights

A new poll commissioned by the TUC shows that more than eight in ten working people want everyone to have the same basic rights at work.

The poll of 2,523 working people, conducted by GQR Research, shows huge appetite among Britain’s workforce for banning zero-hours contracts that trap people in poverty and giving staff 28 days’ notice of shifts so they can plan their lives and childcare.

Many workers on zero-hours contracts are offered shifts at less than a day’s notice, and they often have shifts cancelled at short notice. This instability means workers never know how much they will earn, and their income is subject to the whims of managers. The TUC says this makes it hard for workers to plan their lives, look after their children and get to medical appointments.

The union body is calling for a ban on zero-hours contracts, for workers to have the right to a contract reflecting their normal hours of work, for employers to have to give decent notice of shifts, and for workers to get paid if shifts are cancelled at short notice.

Almost half of those on zero-hours contracts and over half in agency work are Black or Minority Ethnic workers. Action to stamp out insecure work and bring in decent contracts would make a massive contribution to equality and fair treatment for are Black or Minority Ethnic workers. The TUC says this should have been a key focus of the recent Sewell Report into racial and ethnic disparities.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:  

Everyone deserves dignity at work. Worry about getting a decent job that you can build a life on is shared across the country – in big cities and small towns alike. But too many still go day to day without knowing what hours they’ll be working, or whether they’ll even earn enough to put food on the table for their family.

The pandemic exposed the terrible working conditions and insecurity that is the reality of many of our key workers in retail, care, and delivery. This has to be a turning point. It beggars belief that the government is still dragging its heels on an employment bill that was first announced a year and a half ago.

It’s time the government stopped dithering and delivered on its promise to boost workers’ rights.

Working people have spoken. They want workers’ rights upgraded wholesale. Ministers must bring forward the employment bill in next month’s Queen’s Speech and use it to ban zero-hours contracts and end exploitation at work, once and for all.

Photo:  Toa Heftiba on Unsplash