Welsh Labour scuppers zero hour ban

Labour votes with the Tories at the Senedd against a ban on zero hour contracts

Campaigning against zero hour contracts

Welsh Labour has voted down an amendment to the Social Services Bill that would have outlawed zero hour contracts in the social care sector in Wales. Labour AMs joined with the Tories to defeat an amendment brought by Assembly Member Jocelyn Davies that would have made their use illegal in social care in Wales.

Zero hour contracts are increasingly being used by employers as a way of driving down take home pay and deprive workers of other benefits like holiday pay and sick pay. Half of all zero hour contracted workers earn less than £15,000 a year. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development estimates a million workers are on zero hour contracts in the UK which would equal about 50,000 pro rata in Wales. It is estimated that one in five workers in social care have zero hour contracts.

The use of zero hours is among the most unpopular of all the measures used by employers to force down the level of wages while profits soar. Big companies like McDonalds and Sports Direct have cashed in while workers wages have stagnated or fallen in the last six years. It has forced politicians of the main parties to respond and at least in words claim to be looking at measures to support workers. But no serious action has been proposed by any of them.

Labour leader, Ed Miliband, has claimed a Labour government will ‘crack down’ on zero hour contracts but the Welsh Labour government has shown in practice that this promise is not worth anything. When Labour has had the chance to protect thousands of workers from zero hour contracts in Wales it has lined up with the Tories and voted to keep zero hour contracts in the social care sector. Instead it wants to wait for a consultation set up by the Con Dems government at Westminster.

Labour local authorities across Wales are introducing zero hour contracts for council work. And so are Plaid Cymru-led authorities.

If we wait for the main parties to deliver protection for workers we will wait forever. The trade unions must prepare action to force governments across the UK to outlaw the abuse of zero hour contracts. But above all we need to build the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition that can provide an alternative to fight for workers interests in the Senedd and Westminster.

Dave Reid

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