By Ian Dipple Friday 18 October 2013 Updated: 21/10 18:16
THE LEADER of Worcestershire County Council’s Labour Group has called on the authority to end the use of zero hours contracts.
Coun Peter McDonald said more than 700 of the county council’s workers were on the contracts and were effectively being treated as ‘second class citizens’.
The use of zero hours contracts has increased in recent years as employers look for cost-effective ways of meeting short-term staffing needs.
The agreement means staff are available for work but there are no guaranteed hours and no job security.
Coun McDonald said by using them the authority was ‘nothing more than a gangmaster’.
“It is the worst example of a gangmaster as it uses public money to practice some of the worst employment conditions allowed in this country.
“It not only exploits its employees but it exploits the hard earned monies of those paying their council tax to be able to do so.
“Zero contracts leaves workers with little stability or security, and open to exploitation.
“Meeting everyday costs such as rent and bills becomes difficult with the constant threat of a loss of income due to a change in hours.
“Labour Councillors are calling for end of such contracts that exploit the most vulnerable.”
But a Worcestershire County Council spokesman said: “Like most councils we do operate zero hour contracts where appropriate and they are invaluable in providing essential staffing cover, for example to substitute for staff illness in areas such as social care.
“Obviously these types of contract do not suit every person, but we know that many people welcome the flexibility they offer and the opportunity to earn extra income. Staff who have these contracts have the option to turn down work if they choose or, on occasions, take on additional hours.
“Some staff are interested in regular work whereas others may only wish to work on odd occasions.”
He added if staff wanted permanent work they tried to meet the request.
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