Category Archives: Workers Rights

Two-thirds of zero-hours workers want jobs with guaranteed hours, TUC polling reveals

Two-thirds of zero-hours workers want jobs with guaranteed hours, TUC polling reveals

  • Only 25% say they prefer being on zero-hours contracts
  • More than half are thinking about quitting their jobs
  • Government should ban zero-hours contracts, says TUC

Most people on zero-hours contracts are not on them by choice, new TUC polling has revealed today (Monday).

The poll shows that two-thirds (66%) of zero-hours workers would rather have a contract with guaranteed hours. And just one in four zero-hours workers (25%) say they prefer being on zero-hours contracts.

The survey shows that the main reason people are on zero-hours contracts is because it is the only type of work available to them. More than half of zero-hours workers (53%) are thinking about quitting their job over the coming year.

Rights at work:

The polling found that many zero-hours workers are missing out on basic rights at work:

  • Only 1 in 8 (12%) say they get sick pay.
  • Only 1 in 14 (7%) would get redundancy pay.
  • Two-fifths (43%) say they don’t get holiday pay.
  • Half (47%) say they do not get written terms and conditions.
  • Just 1 in 20 (5%) say they have the right to a permanent contract after working the same hours consistently.

‘Last minute working’:

The poll also reveals the ‘last minute’ nature of zero-hours working. More than half (51%) of zero-hours workers have had shifts cancelled at less than 24 hours’ notice. And nearly three-quarters (73%) have been offered work at less than 24 hours’ notice.

Making ends meet:

Most zero-hours contract workers (59%) want more hours. The majority (54%) say they find it difficult to pay bills because they can’t get enough work. But any requests for additional shifts are as likely to be rejected as accepted.

Nearly two-fifths (38%) of zero-hours workers say they wouldn’t be able to cope with an unexpected bill of £500.

The TUC says the government should clamp down on zero-hours working in its forthcoming response to the Taylor Review.

The TUC estimates that zero-hours working costs the exchequer £1.9bn a year. This is because zero-hours contract workers earn significantly less than regular employees and therefore:

  • pay less tax,
  • pay less national insurance,
  • are more reliant on tax credits.

Median pay for a zero-hours worker is a third (£3.50) less an hour than for an average employee.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Most people on zero-hours contracts are not on them by choice. They’d much rather have the security of guaranteed hours and the same rights as employees.

“The so-called ‘flexibility’ these contracts offer is one-sided. Many zero-hours workers have shifts cancelled at the last minute. And lots are struggling to make ends meet.

“Now’s the time for the government to ban zero-hours contracts, as they have done in other countries like New Zealand. Every job should be a great job – but far too many workers in the UK are being treated like disposable labour.”

Barnet UNISON issues warning to members about the Pension Service provided by Capita

“The final straw for me was when I was sent copies of letters issued on London Borough of Hounslow letterheads with London Borough of Hounslow email contact details to our members by Capita Pension Service in response to their own Barnet Pensions queries. Barnet UNISON has been monitoring an ongoing catalogue of serious errors made by the Capita Pensions Service operating out of Darlington. Not only am I unhappy with Capita, but also with the Council, which agreed this outsourcing model. This fragmented model, where you have two pay roll departments running out of Belfast and Carlisle and Pensions running out of Darlington was agreed by senior Barnet Council Officers in 2012. They have long gone and left us with a service in which we have no confidence. Our Pension, is our members’ single biggest financial saving for their future. It is also their deferred earnings. The Pension service our members’ are having to endure is unacceptable. My concern is that there is an “Emperor’s New Clothes” culture in our Council. No criticism is tolerated, well Barnet UNISON will not stay silent the service needs to be brought back in-house.”  John Burgess Barnet UNISON Branch Secretary

Full report on Barnet Unison site.

PCS Driving & Vehicle Standards Agency Strike: 4 and 5 December 2017

UPDATE: PCS report that the action is so solid at Barnet they will NOT need to picket tomorrow morning.

Strike action disrupts new driving tests – picket line from 7:30 am at the Barnet Driving Test Centre, Raydean House, 15 – 17 Western Parade, Barnet. EN5 1AD, solidarity visits greatly welcomed!

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) in the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will take 48 hour strike action on Monday 4th December ending at Midnight on the 5th December. This adds to the action short of a strike which began last week (23rd) in a dispute over the new driving test and also working patterns.

This action has already led to hundreds of tests being cancelled in the first week of the action.

In a perverse move DVSA has withdrawn overtime from striking workers and also imposed leave schedules meaning that an even greater backlog of thousands of tests is inevitable due to the imposed reductions in service. 

A ballot in October saw an 84% vote for strike action on a 70% turnout.

The strike action across the DVSA which begins on the 4th December will see up to 14,000 driving tests cancelled on the day the new driving test is launched.  

Other effects of the action include reduced roadside checks on vehicles, reduced enforcement checks on lorries and other vehicles coming into the U.K and a significant reduction of tachograph testing. 

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka commented

“PCS members in the DVSA have tried to negotiate around their concerns but the door has been slammed shut in their face. They now feel they have no alternative but to take industrial action to bring home to the public how damaging the DVSA proposals are. No one takes strike action lightly and we acknowledge the disruption to the driving tests for learner drivers keen to pass their test but the Government could avoid this strike even now at the 11th hour by agreeing to serious talks and withdrawing their most damaging proposals. I have today written to the Transport Minister Chris Grayling urging him to intervene.”

For information contact PCS National Press Officer Steve Battlemuch on 07515 605755 or via email steveb@pcs.org.uk

Other picket lines in the SERTUC region can be found here https://www.pcs.org.uk/campaigns/pcs-fighting-attacks-on-staff-in-dvsa/support-pcs-dvsa-picket-lines

Mark Serwotka is available for interviews on Monday 4th Dec from 1pm at Millbank studio.

The PCS letter to Chris Grayling is available here https://www.pcs.org.uk/sites/default/files/site_assets/campaigns/2017/Letter%20to%20Chris%20Grayling%20MP%2030%20november.pdf

PCS is one of the UK’s largest unions and represents civil and public servants in central government and in parts of government transferred to the private sector. Mark Serwotka is the general secretary and the president is Janice Godrich – on Twitter @janicegodrich

Follow PCS on Twitter @pcs_union

Defend the Right to Picket Demo – Saturday 25th November 2pm Brighton Station

As you will be aware the RMT are in a long running dispute with Southern Rail about the removal of guards from trains.

The RMT had previously been running effective pickets at the back of Brighton station that many drivers were refusing to cross. To try to stop this Southern have threatened strong legal action under the anti-union laws to move the pickets well away from the station.

Please head down to the station on Saturday at 2pm to show your support for having guards on our trains and for the right for union members to picket their own workplace without fear of victimisation.

Please do what you can to support and publicise this. Please can you bring banners flags etc!!!

Interesting study from the Fabian Society on why unions aren’t growing and how they could

Friends of the TUC may want to give this document a look: the Fabian society has done some research into perceptions of trade unions by workers who generally aren’t in them. Despite undoubted problems, some of the data is actually encouraging, suggesting that the work of unions is atually broadly understood and highly regarded. It is clear that the unions don’t feel approachable to a lot of younger workers, though.

Read the full report here.

From Union News: Unite rep wins tribunal after being victimised by Tories

A union rep at Bromley council has won her employment tribunal case which found she was victimised for trade union activities.

Unite Legal Services lodged claims against the Conservative-controlled council’s treatment of Kathy Smith, a council employee and Unite branch secretary, who firmly opposed the council’s mass privatisation agenda.

Council bosses removed her full-time trade union facility time in June 2015, which the tribunal found was ‘not only about cost or finances’ but that there was a wider issue at play ‘namely the way in which the [Council] viewed the unions’.

Unite assistant general secretary for legal services Howard Beckett hailed the result as ‘a great victory for the rights of trade union reps which sends out a strong signal to other local authorities’.

The ET found in favour of Kathy Smith on three counts – two regarding trade union victimisation in order to deter her from carrying out trade union activities and one for breach of the right to paid time-off for trade union duties.

The tribunal was critical of the council on other points also and found that an email sent by Cllr Payne, after Ms Smith raised concerns about people using the public libraries to view pornography, was ‘pejorative’ and that it was unfortunate that such an important matter was used as a vehicle to criticise Kathy about procedure.

The tribunal found that the trade unions’ objections to cost-cutting and outsourcing was an irritation to an organisation that was embarked on a ‘commissioning journey’.

The tribunal concluded that the council wanted to minimise the role of the trade unions within the organisation, while doing the bare minimum to act within the law in respect of the rights contained in the legislation.

The tribunal also noted that Kathy Smith was clearly a conscientious union representative and spent a lot of her own time on union work. The council now has 28 days to settle on a figure for damages or there will be a remedy hearing to determine the extent of the damages.

Kathy Smith said: “I am delighted that the employment tribunal agreed that I was victimised for carrying out lawful trade union activities. The council’s consistently hostile attitude caused me great upset and distress.

“It has been a very stressful time, but worth it because justice prevailed. I would like to thank Unite for the steadfast support that I received throughout this period.”

Howard Beckett said: “This case went to the heart of what is the legitimate role of a trade union representative in the workplace and the responsibilities they have to represent their members.

“The ET heard serious allegations of victimisation against our long-standing branch secretary Kathy Smith who bravely stood up against the council’s unpopular privatisation of local government services.

“This judgment sends out a clear signal to local authorities across the UK, which may be tempted to erode the rights of trade union reps, to think twice about adopting a similar course of action, as the law won’t support, and Unite will not allow, such activities.”

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TUC/EOR Discrimination Law Conference 2018

Trades Union Congress (TUC)
Friday, 26 January 201 from 08:45 to 16:05 (GMT)
London, United Kingdom

Please join us for our annual discrimination law conference, which gives trade unions, law centres, CAB and other voluntary organisations the chance to hear leading barristers give their views on the latest legislative developments and landmark equality cases.

Speakers for 2018 are:

Welcome – Paul Nowak, Deputy General Secretary, Trades Union Congress

Keynote Address – Her Honour Judge Jennifer Eady QC, Senior Judge, Employment Appeal Tribunal

Pregnancy, maternity and parental rights – Rachel Crasnow QC, Cloisters Chambers

Discrimination because of religion or belief and sexual orientation discrimination – Robin Allen QC, Cloisters Chambers

Equal pay and age discrimination: new legislation and case law – Rebecca Tuck, Old Square Chambers

Disability discrimination: recent developments – Sean Jones QC, 11 KBW Chambers

Sex and race discrimination: recent case law – Karon Monaghan QC, Matrix Chambers

The cost for trade unions, law centres, CABx and other voluntary organisations is £75 per delegate.

TUC affiliates will receive one free place for every ten booked (the 10th place will be refunded after the booking has been made).
For more information and to book tickets please visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/tuc-and-equal-opportunities-review-discrimination-law-conference-2018-tickets-39186144814

Inspirational victory

BREAKING, BREAKING NEWS: “Following productive and positive consultations between United Voices of the World and Templewood today, 2nd November 2017, we have reached an agreement which will settle this current industrial dispute to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.

It has been agreed that the Living Wage will be paid effective immediately to our members, and annual increases will also be made in the month following the Living Wage announcement in the first week of November of each year. Due to the terms of this agreement no further comments will be made in public about this matter.”

Thank you for all your support! Onwards and upwards!

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