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Usdaw launches a policy document on insecure work and under-employment

Date: 23 April 2018 Shopworkers’ trade union leader John Hannett has today set out Usdaw’s approach to tackling insecure work and under-employment in an Executive Council statement to the union’s annual conference in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.
John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary said: “Over the last eight years, the UK has seen a massive increase in the number of vulnerable workers. This has been caused not only by new forms of exploitation linked to the so-called gig-economy, but also by the Government's continued refusal to tackle issues such as zero-hours contracts, short-hours contracts and underemployment.
“While zero-hours contracts and gig-economy workers may attract the most headlines, we must not forget that there are other forms of insecure work which seriously limit a person's ability to live a normal life. From short-hours contracts that result in people only having a small number of hours guaranteed each week, to the general problem of under-employment, where people are working fewer hours than they want or need to guarantee a decent basic income.
“Workplace insecurity can lead to significant financial problems for individuals. Unfortunately, we are seeing all too often that these financial problems can also lead to severe stress, anxiety and other mental health conditions.
“Last year, the Union surveyed Usdaw members on the issues around working hours. Some of these responses detailed heartbreaking evidence around how the issues laid out in the statement are affecting our members. Following a thorough analysis of the results from the survey there are some clear conclusions that can be made: Firstly, Usdaw members want guarantees for additional hours that they work on a regular basis. Secondly, agency workers are being overused and exploited in many workplaces. And, thirdly, many workers are struggling to make ends meet.
“Over a quarter of respondents either have or want a second job. Far too often, people are being forced to take a second job, not because the pay rate is too low, but because their employer will not guarantee them enough hours every week to be able to provide for themselves and their families.
“The Usdaw survey has shown that 64 per cent of our members regularly work overtime and of these, two-thirds would like to see this overtime guaranteed. This isn't a question of a few additional hours being worked during peak times, or covering the hours when someone takes leave, these are hours which are being worked week in, week out to ensure that the job gets done.
“Where regular overtime becomes part of the job, there is little, if any, justification for employers to refuse to guarantee these additional hours as part of the contract. Usdaw has been pushing all of our major employers to increase contractual hours where individuals regularly work overtime and we successfully ensured a commitment in the last Labour manifesto to ensure that the problem of short-hours contracts would be addressed.
“Usdaw believes that there are a number of key recommendations from the Matthew Taylor report that need to be implemented as soon as possible: Firstly, ban the Swedish Derogation in the Agency Workers' Regulations. Secondly, provide a right to request a contract that reflects the hours that are regularly worked. And finally, develop better workforce relations through strengthening employee voice.
“These are just the basic recommendations and Usdaw calls on Government to go further. While the Taylor Review has called for workers to be given a right to request a contract that reflects the hours they work, Usdaw is calling for workers to be given an automatic right to a contract that reflects the hours they work. And while the Taylor Review has called for workers to have easier access to consultative structures, Usdaw is calling for workers to be given access to collective bargaining undertaken by an independent trade union.
“Usdaw will continue to call for improvements in employment legislation. However, it is clear that the only Government that will take employment rights seriously will be a Labour Government.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 28% over the decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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