All workers will have cause to welcome Jeremy Corbyn’s commitment to end zero-hour contracts in the newly announced Labour manifesto. Under such contracts, there a hundreds-of-thousands directly suffering brutal exploitation, with many going weeks without work or wages, unable to make long term financial commitments, such as taking out a mortgage.
Zero-hour contracts also threaten workers on permanent contracts. In the City of Liverpool College, English and maths teaching posts were made redundant in 2014, only for teachers to be engaged on zero-hour contracts in these very subjects a mere matter of months later.
As a recent investigation by The Huffington Post showed, however, zero-hour contracts are not the only method used by business to super exploit workers - there are also “short hours” contracts too. For example, the security company Cordant runs a contract at the University of London, under which staff may be required to work at short notice or work at any location, with minimum guarantee of just 336 hours annually, which can be randomly distributed throughout the year.
Recently, in a fanfare of publicity, McDonalds declared it would no longer use zero-hour contracts; however, these were replaced with short hours contracts, including some offering as little as four hours per week, but requiring more work in busy times.
The contract at Cordant led to a strike at the University of London by security staff in April this year, along with a lively protest. Workers are prepared to fight back against contracts that have led one worker, for example, to go from working 50 hours per week down to just 3.5.
This shows that whatever reforms or laws are won to protect workers, the capitalist bosses will always finds ways to exploit them. That is why we need to put an end to this rotten system by fighting for socialism.