A “devastating” number of North East people are struggling to get by on a zero hours contract, a union has warned.
The TUC has published report which estimates there are 52,000 people – enough to fill Newcastle United’s home ground St James’ Park – in the region employed on the controversial contracts, something it says is “deeply damaging for society”.
The study, called The Decent Jobs Deficit, also reveals those on the casual contracts are earning around £300-a-week less than those on a permanent contract.
The report shows average weekly earnings for zero-hours workers are just £188, compared to £479 for permanent workers.
The research also reveals that zero-hours workers are five times more likely not to qualify for sick pay as a result of their lower wages.
The TUC says 39% of zero-hours workers earn less than £111-a-week – the qualifying threshold for statutory sick pay – compared to 8% of permanent employees.
Beth Farhat, Regional Secretary of the Northern TUC, said:
“We estimate over 52,000 North East workers are employed on zero hour contracts which is a devastating number of people experiencing insecurity, and lack of basic workplace rights such as sick pay.
“Research from our region shows that this type of work can be disastrous for family relationships as it increases pressure on people often in quite desperate situations with no alternative.
“Such exploitation by employers is deeply damaging to society and for the economy since insecure work limits access to basic goods and services such as renting a flat.
“The Coalition might claim we’re in recovery but one reason why income tax revenues are down last year is because too many new jobs are low paid, insecure and with insufficient hours. We need a strategy for decent jobs with fair pay and an alternative to exploitative zero hours contracts offering people rights and respect.”
The report comes as the TUC begins a week of campaigning.
A quarter of zero-hours workers work a full-time week and one in four (23%) work over 35 hours a week, compared to two-thirds (60%) of other employees.
One in three report having no regular amount of income and were nearly five times as likely to have differing amounts of weekly pay compared to staff with other kinds of work arrangements.
The report also reveals women on zero-hours contracts don’t make as much as their male counterparts, earning £32-a-week less, on average, than men employed on the same kind of contracts.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“The growth of zero-hours contracts, along with other forms of precarious employment, is one of the main reasons why working people have seen their living standards worsen significantly in recent years.
“It is shocking that so many workers employed on these kind of contracts are on poverty pay and miss out on things that most of us take for granted like sick pay.
“While it is good to see employment is rising, if the UK doesn’t create more well-paid jobs with regular hours we will continue to have a two-tier workforce where many people are stuck in working poverty.
“The increase in casual labour also helps explain why income tax revenues are falling which is not only bad for our public finances but for society too. The lack of regular hours and income makes it difficult for households to pay bills and take on financial commitments such as rents and mortgages.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 15 Dec 2014
This article was written by Andrew Sparrow, political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Sunday 8th June 2014
Fresh evidence that the government will fail to hit its child poverty goals has emerged in a report showing 3.5 million children are expected to be in absolute poverty in Britain in 2020 – almost five times as many as the target.
It said there was a credibility gap at the heart of the government child poverty strategy and simply focusing on trying to get more people into work was not the answer.
Under the Child Poverty Act 2010, passed by Labour just before it left office, the government is committed to getting relative child poverty (the proportion of children living in households on below 60% median income) below 10% by 2020 and absolute child poverty (the proportion living in households below what 60% of median income was in 2010-11, uprated for inflation) below 5%.
The commission, chaired by the former Labour cabinet minister Alan Milburn, with Gillian Shephard, the former Conservative cabinet minister, as deputy chair, has repeatedly warned that the targets have little or no chance of being met.
On Monday, alongside its formal response to the government’s draft child poverty strategy for 2014-17, it publishes research on how many parents would have to find work for the child poverty targets to be met.
Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, argues that addressing poverty by just increasing benefits is flawed and the root causes must be addressed by getting more parents into jobs. But the commission says “ending poverty mainly through the labour market does not look remotely realistic by 2020″. In too many cases it simply moves children from low income workless households to low income working households.
“The reality is that too many parents get stuck in working poverty, unable to command sufficient earnings to escape low income and cycling in and out of insecure, short-term and low-paid employment with limited prospects.”
To hit the relative child poverty target, parental employment rates would have to reach almost 100% – “far beyond what has ever been achieved anywhere in the world”. Hours being worked would have to increase substantially. Current policies would not enable this to happen.
Even if parental employment reached almost 100%, the absolute poverty target would be unattainable because of the way earnings fell relative to inflation from 2010 to 2013.
The Department for Work and Pensions said it was committed to ending child poverty by 2020 with plans to tackle the root causes of poverty, including worklessness, low earnings and educational failure.
Source – Welfare News Service, 09 June 2014