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From The Socialist newspaper, 1 March 2017

"I worked from 9am to 11.30pm with only one break"

photo Quinn Dombrowski/Creative Commons

photo Quinn Dombrowski/Creative Commons   (Click to enlarge)

A zero-hour contract worker speaks to the Socialist

The number of workers employed on zero-hour contracts is set to rise to over 1 million for the first time. The Socialist spoke to Hannah, who is 'employed' on one.

The Socialist: Where did you work?

Hannah: I worked for a bar and restaurant over Christmas.

How many people were employed there?

There were 20-30 of us although I could never be completely sure - I often didn't see some of the other employees as we worked very different shifts.

When did you start work?

I started working in November 2016 and was there for about a month and a half. There was no mention of work stopping, I just had my last shift on New Year's Eve and then nothing. I know at least one other employee has had no shifts since then.

Have you contacted the employer about getting more shifts?

I called a week after New Year's Eve and they said they would contact me if any more work became available. I then called them two weeks later when I hadn't heard anything and they said they would probably not need me until Mother's Day!

Had anyone considered joining a union?

No, I just wanted to walk into an easy job and not have to worry as I have my studies to think about. I just didn't see the point of joining a union as they [the employers] would just see you as a pain rather than a positive to the company.

What were the conditions like at work?

At times it could be pretty draining. For me, the worst day was when we had a wedding reception booked in. We had to work from 9am to 11.30pm and I was only allowed one cigarette break throughout that entire time. Near the end of the shift one of the chefs offered to make us sandwiches because he could see how drained we were.

Are you still considered to be an employee even though you're getting no hours?

I am, although I've just got a new job because it's clear I wasn't getting any hours. I've been very up front with my new employer and told them not to screw me around on hours but it's another zero-hour contract because that's all I could get.

Would you want to see zero-hour contracts scrapped?

Absolutely. They are just a way to give the workers no rights

Would you join a trade union if your union helped you and your colleagues to organise effectively against zero-hours contracts?

Yes, it's something I'm actually thinking about now as I'm about to start a new zero-hour job.

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In The Socialist 1 March 2017:


Save #OurNHS

Build a movement to save our NHS

Reinstate the bursaries for student nurses now!

Grantham: 1,000 march for reopening of A&E

NHS England missing paperwork scandal

Heart centre closure consultation 'farce'

NHS v RBS


Socialist Party women

International Women's Day

Women's protests and walkouts around the world

Lessons of Russia 1917 for women's struggle today

Why I joined the Socialist Party

How black women fought racism and sexism at Nasa

Fight like Poplar's women councillors to change the lives of family carers


What we think

Byelections: Break with Labour Blairism wasn't on offer


Socialist Party feature

Debates on building the anti-Trump movement


Workplace news and analysis

"I worked from 9am to 11.30pm with only one break"

Warehouse workers walk out over pay and pensions

Derby teaching assistants continue fight against 6,000 a year pay cut

Picturehouse strikers blockade Leicester Square

Ford workers demand answers to Bridgend plant sourcing questions

Hearing into alleged rule-breaking by Unison ends

Leeds: Protest against tip stealing

Mixed Fleet cabin crew announce more strike days

RMT plans protest against 'driver only' Merseyrail trains

Southern Rail strike continues

May Day greetings in the Socialist


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Unions demand that Corbyn-supporting mayor protects services

Bristol cuts: the fight goes on

Tower Hamlets: There is an alternative, Mr Biggs

Spelthorne: we need socialist councillors

York University: socialists prevent far-right hate speech

Socialist Party Wales conference report

Northern region Socialist Party conference


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

The Socialist Inbox

What we saw


 

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Related links:

Zero-hour contracts:

triangleLabour and the fight for a shorter working week

triangleWorkplace victory emboldens retail workers to get organised

triangleTrade union action can end low pay

triangleLaughable research denies low-pay scandal

triangleInterview with a shop worker

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triangleEnergy firm plans to make 2,600 redundant

triangleNo return to unsafe construction sites

US:

triangleOutrage spreads globally following US police murder of George Floyd

triangleChinese state's imposition of draconian law reignites Hong Kong protests

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