Zero-hours Contracts

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:00 pm on 19th March 2014.

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Photo of Alison McGovern Alison McGovern Shadow Minister (International Development) 4:00 pm, 19th March 2014

My hon. Friend is right. One of the worst things about zero-hours contracts is what I call “zero-hours contracts as a management tool”. People have brought cases to me where, for whatever reason, somebody’s face did not fit and they did not end up getting any hours. That is no replacement for the usual practices of good management and all the rest of it, so it is something that we absolutely need to be aware of.

Another thing that employers can practically do to help us to deal with the situation is encourage people to join a trade union—I would say that, being a Labour MP, but. People will not always have the capacity to raise such issues themselves, but with workplace representation, they can, and we can help on low-paid work issues, such as getting people skills and boosting their abilities. I am sorry to be so predictable—being a Labour MP and supporting people joining a trade union—but there is a reason for joining a union. A union is a practical bit of infrastructure that can help businesses to give their workers a sense of being involved in the leadership, and help to tackle some of these problems. I think good employers would agree with me on that.

I want to take the opportunity to thank parliamentary colleagues who have taken the time to come along to today’s debate. Most importantly, however, I thank every single person who has been in touch with me over the past week or so since I was awarded the debate. I also thank all the people who have been in touch with me over the past six months to share their experience. I felt the experiences of people working on that basis were totally hidden. They are not hidden now. The question is: what can we do about it?