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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Chuka Umunna calls off, er, nonexistent resistance against Jeremy Corbyn

Chuka Umunna and Tristram Hunt, June 2015 by FT

Chuka Umunna told New Labour stalwarts on Tuesday that they must back the next leader of the Labour party, despite rumours his recently formed faction was plotting a resistance against the likely winner Jeremy Corbyn.

Speaking to the Policy Network think tank in a defence of the achievements of the premierships of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the Streatham MP and former Labour leadership hopeful urged his party to embrace “solidarity”.

“In every generation social democracy is besieged from left and right,” Umunna whined. “But the achievements of each generation are defined by the strength of a complex political tradition that strengthens solidarity through protecting democracy and liberty, a role for the state and the market and seeks to shape the future through an inclusive politics.

“Solidarity is key which is why we must accept the result of our contest when it comes and support our new leader in developing an agenda that can return Labour to office.”

Umunna’s comments come after reports that the Labour for the Common Good faction he formed with Tristan Hunt, MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central and another former leadership contender, was plotting a to resist Corbyn.

Umunna later denied that any such resistance group existed, so, er, obviously the reports must be untrue.

Other MPs who nominated Corbyn in a bid to widen the Labour leadership debate have expressed regret at doing so, including former foreign secretary Margaret Beckett, who said she had been a “moron” for backing the North Islington MP.

Umunna had briefly stood in the leadership contest before backing out over concerns the press was penetrating too deeply into his personal affairs and those of his family, scrutiny the Streatham MP would have seen former leader Ed Miliband experience.

The full text of Umunna’s Policy Network speech can be read in the New Statesman.

Image Credit – Chuka Umunna and Tristram Hunt, June 2015 by the FT