A stepfather’s impassioned plea to end the use of zero-hour contracts has become an internet hit after his stepson was forced leave his rented home when he could no longer cover the rent.
Stephen Thompson wrote an open letter to his stepson’s employer, JD Wetherspoon, after the family was forced to buy the kitchen worker a new pair of shoes so he could walk to work without getting his feet wet.
And since he posted the letter on Facebook a few days ago, he has been inundated with similar tales from other people who are struggling under the financial burden of a zero-hour contract.
With more than 12,000 likes and 13,000 shares, the post has attracted the attention of people from across the country.
Mr Thompson, who works at a university as a social entrepreneur-in-residence and community engagement coordinator, says he was shocked at how far reaching the problem was for people trying to find secure work.
“My stepson is in 40s and trained for three years to be able to work in catering,” he said.
“I never realised how common the problem was with zero hour contracts, people who just want to work take these jobs but their futures are never secure.
> And this is a large part of the problem – so many people who ought to realise what is going on in this country seem oblivious to it. Mainstream media barely reports it, of course, but even so … and you might at least expect someone who works as a community engagement coordinator to know what’s going on in that community.
Still, he does now, and has done something positive about it.
“When I wrote the open letter, I never expected the response that I have received. I have read some real horror stories in the last few days.
In his letter, he writes:
“He is “employed” on a zero-hours basis and earns barely enough to feed himself. He got into trouble with his rent and was evicted from his home. I blame the basis of his employment for this.
“He now lives two miles away from your bar and is obliged to walk this distance to and from work as he does not earn enough to afford public transport. Yesterday my wife was obliged to buy him new shoes as he had worn holes in his existing ones. I think it is appalling that you do not provide your kitchen staff with appropriate footwear.”
And he has contacted his local MP Alex Cunningham to garner his support for the abolition of zero-hour contracts.
“I believe it is time to end the widespread use of zero-hour contracts.”
A Wetherspoon spokesman said:
“Wetherspoon does operate flexible contracts for its hourly paid staff.
“The company operates in a seasonal sector and offer flexible hours to meet demand. Pub managers try to give staff the hours they want.
“Rotas are produced by the manager and published to employees at least two weeks in advance.
“Wetherspoon probably offers more hours per week than any other pub company.”
To read the letter visit facebook.com/Stmedia/posts/10152912900027184
Source – Northern Echo, 03 Jan 2015