David Cameron’s conference pledge to scrap exclusive zero hour contracts – which prevent employees from working for anyone else – is not some sign that he actually gives a shit about the poorest and most exploited workers.
The real reason for the ban is to make those workers poorer and even more exploited when Universal Credit is finally introduced (stop laughing) and the DWP start inflicting benefit sanctions on people working part time.
For a long time now, DWP ministers have been panicking about how Universal Credit and increased benefit conditionality can possibly work alongside zero-hours contracts. Should Universal Credit ever actually be introduced then part time workers will face the same kind of Jobcentre harassment currently reserved for unemployed or sick and disabled people. People working part time could even face being sent on workfare in the hours they aren’t at work, whilst they will be required to take on additional jobs at the drop of a hat or their Housing Benefit could be sanctioned leaving them homeless.
These nasty new rules will place anyone working part time on an exclusive zero hour contract in an impossible situation. If they don’t take up an additional job when the Jobcentre tells them to they will lose their in-work benefits. If they do, they will get sacked from their other job. This is why the Tories want to scrap these kinds of zero hour contracts. So the DWP can start sanctioning part time worker’s benefits.
The truth is that the Tories love zero hour contracts so much that the Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Fraud has suggested people should have more than one. All they want is a little bit of re-jigging so that Iain Duncan Smith’s latest crazy scheme can go ahead as planned. The end result will mean more insecurity for the lowest paid workers, with the DWP already boasting to bosses that Universal Credit will make it easier to sack staff. And those who fail to meet endless petty Jobcentre conditions will find themselves sanctioned and unable to pay the rent.
Of course simply saying they are going to ban exclusive zero hour contracts is only half the battle, and it is one the Tories are likely to lose. Even the suggestion reveals breath-taking ignorance of how business works. Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Fraud may dream of low paid workers scurrying from one job to the next desperate to avoid the attention of sanction happy Jobcentre busy-bodies. But if they really think that Tesco will let their part time staff go work at ASDA in their spare time then they are living in a fucking dream world.
This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.
Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid