Opposition Day — [7th Allotted Day] — Zero-hours Contracts

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:45 pm on 16th October 2013.

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Photo of Chuka Umunna Chuka Umunna Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 12:45 pm, 16th October 2013

I completely agree with my hon. Friend, who, as it happens, intervenes just as I was about to talk about Merseyside. I was talking about collecting data on the number of zero-hours contracts being one thing and the evidence about their use being another. He will know that our hon. Friends the Members for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger) and for Wirral South and our right hon. Friend Mr Howarth produced an excellent report in June detailing the use of zero-hours contracts in the Liverpool area. In that report they told the story of a care worker, whom I have subsequently met and spoken to myself, as I mentioned earlier. She told me that she had to be available to visit clients at their homes at least six days a week, including evenings. Her rota could change in a flash. If visits were cancelled at late notice, she would often not be paid. If visits were added at the last minute, she would have to manage her child care commitments as she best could—a point raised by my hon. Friend Chris Ruane. That is the reality of life for people under these contracts.

In July, my hon. Friend Julie Elliott held a Westminster Hall debate on this issue. Seventeen Opposition Members contributed to that debate, giving further testimony about people’s experiences on such contracts. In fact, my hon. Friend Mrs Glindon—I do not know whether she is here today—talked about how she had been employed on a zero-hours contract for two years in the retail sector. I note that not one Government Back Bencher spoke in that debate—save for Nadine Dorries, who was chairing it—but it is good to see a few more Government Members here today.