What the ONS data really tells us about zero-hour contracts

Contract by Branko Collin

The number of workers on zero-hour contracts, which guarantee no working hours to staff, has risen 19 percent in the year to June to 744,000, or 2.4 percent of those in employment, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released on Wednesday.

The use of such contracts has been controversial in the past, with some arguing they disadvantage workers and allow firms to dodge the greater obligations to staff that come with full or part-time contracts. Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the union TUC, said of the figures:

“Zero-hours contracts are a stark reminder of Britain’s two-tier workforce. People employed on these contracts earn £300 a week less, on average, than workers in secure jobs. I challenge any minister or business leader to survive on a low-paid zero-hours contract job, not knowing from one day to the next how much work they will have.”

But supporters of the contracts argue that they allow people to work flexible hours, and are actually popular among those that use them. To find the truth the Right Dishonourable dug into the data.

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9 photos that sum up what the End Austerity Now march meant

End Austerity Now, 20 June 2015 – In Conclusion

Anti-austerity campaigners and assorted leftists gathered on the streets of London last Saturday to protest against the Conservative government elected barely a month ago.

As with many of these marches the turnout was a hodgepodge of various interest groups united only in their disdain for the Tories and objection to public service cuts that the government will impose over the next parliament.

Here is the day in nine photos. (Well, ten if you include the header.)

1. No right-turns please

End Austerity Now, 20 June 2015 – No Right Turn

2. The day’s weirdest float?

End Austerity Now, 20 June 2015 – Hands Up For Education

3. A bit of Marxist theory

End Austerity Now, 20 June 2015 – Austerity is a Bourgeois Construct

4. The, er, feeling is mutual

End Austerity Now, 20 June 2015 – Ipswich Says Fuck No

5. Bit of a balls up

End Austerity Now, 20 June 2015 – Red Unite Balls

6.  “I think I may have made a mistake.”

End Austerity Now, 20 June 2015 – Jewish Leprechaun

7. The placard that shows its working

End Austerity Now, 20 June 2015 – David Cameron Hypocrite

8. One of the more polite banners

End Austerity Now, 20 June 2015 – Fucking Tories Etc

9. Savoy faces unwelcome news

End Austerity Now, 20 June 2015 – Cannot Eat Savoy

Photos by J.C. Servante. Words by Jimmy Nicholls

Alternative Sources: The electable Corbyn, a less than Magna Carta, and Hitchens vs Mensh

Alternative Sources: Norman Lamb, Jeremy Corbyn and Westminster

Fallout from the departures of Labour’s Ed Miliband and the Liberal Democrats’ Nick Clegg continued to dominate headlines this week, alongside the anniversary of Magna Carta and a few other other oddities. Here’s what you may have missed:

1. Craig Murray: Nicola Corbyn and the Myth of the Unelectable Left

“The media are working overtime to marginalise Jeremy Corbyn as a Labour leadership candidate on the grounds that he is leftwing and therefore weird and unelectable. But they face the undeniable fact that, Scottish independence aside, there are very few political differences between Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon.”

Though the Scottish National Party (SNP) is probably more rightwing than admitted, the former British diplomat Murray argues an interesting case that Corbyn could be a better choice for Labour than much of the media (including The Right Dishonourable) have argued.

2. Tim Fenton: Don’t Menshn Peter Hitchens

“The Great Man [Peter Hitchens] put the lid on the latest Mensch idiocy as he calmly asked: ‘Don’t seem to have had any reply to this straightforward question. Are your Tweets in fact written by a Teletubby?

It is always a pleasure to have chick-lit author Louise Mensch trashed by all and sundry, and few bloggers are more skilled at narrating a good Twitter hounding than Fenton, a blogger who always has Fleet Street in his sights.

3. Dave Richards and Martin Smith: The Strange Resurrection of the British Political Tradition

“[Britain’s] prescribed mode of governance, that of the Westminster Model, highlighted the unitary character of the British Parliamentary State, organised round the principle of parliamentary sovereignty. In so doing, it delivered an elitist form of top-down government, based on a high concentration of power at the centre, what Brian Barry caustically referred to as a ‘power-hoarding’ approach to governing.”

The general election’s failure to deliver the multi-party politics the country craves has a long historical tradition, as the political academics Richards and Martin explain to the London School of Economics blog.

4. David Allen Green: The Meaning of Magna Carta

“Magna Carta is symbolic of is not a great English constitutional principle, but the lack of one.  It symbolises the capacity of people to nod along at being told they have fictional and nonexistent rights instead of having rights which can actually be enforced. ”

Much has been written of Magna Carta over the last week, but in this informed piece Green – a writer, lawyer and sceptic of the Conservative government’s legal reforms – skewers the popular interpretation of the most famous document in British law.

5. Caron Lindsay: Norman Lamb removes staff for alleged negative push-polling

“It’s clear that Norman Lamb had no idea what was going on and when the complaints were made he took immediate action and suspended two campaign volunteers. He did the right thing, quickly, and should be commended for that.”

A quarrel between Liberal leadership hopefuls Tim Farron and Norman Lamb is given an exhaustive if gushing summary by the editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, an independent blog linked to the party.

Header Image – Norman Lamb (Acumen Images), Palace of Westminster (TRD) and Jeremy Corbyn (David Hunt), with editing by The Right Dishonourable