Search

Hundreds of Tower Hamlets council workers on ‘zero hour’ contracts

PUBLISHED: 16:36 12 August 2013 | UPDATED: 16:36 12 August 2013

Hundreds of local authority workers are on controversial zero-hour contracts in London’s East End, it has emerged.

Six London boroughs including Tower Hamlets use workers on contracts which the public service union Unison wants banned from town halls.

One-in-20 workers on Tower Hamlets’ payroll is on a ‘zero hour’ contract with no guaranteed work, sick pay or even travel allowance between assignments.

Using zero-hour contracts in private trade and industry has been criticised by Business Secretary Vince Cable who has warned employers against exploiting staff.

But trade union researchers putting in Freedom of Information requests to town halls have discovered many public sector employees such as care workers and tutors are also on such contracts.

“Care workers on these terrible contracts don’t have any idea how much money they’ll take home from one week to the next,” a Unison spokesman said.

Tower Hamlets council has 365 workers on these contracts—but insists that “used appropriately” they provide flexibility.

A Town Hall spokesman promised: “We will keep zero-hour contracts under review and plan to issue guidance on their use.”

These were mostly tutors on adult learning courses, music and languages, but also registrars and youth services in the 12 months to April, no more than 5.5 per cent of the council workforce.

Now unions have called for zero-hour contracts to be banned altogether.

Unison’s Tower Hamlets branch secretary John McLoughlin said: “These contracts are the product of the steady erosion of people’s employment rights in pursuit of employers’ flexibility—which means job protection has progressively declined.

“They offer no guaranteed work or pay, no security on sick pay, no guaranteed holidays and no protection against arbitrary dismissal as bosses don’t need to sack you—they can simply offer you ‘zero hours’ without reason or explanation.”

Tower Hamlets has better working conditions for its directly-employed staff, the union acknowledges. Home Care workers get minimum guaranteed hours with extra pay for weekends and anti-social hours.

But the same conditions do not apply where town halls put services out to companies using zero-hour contracts, it warns.

Unison is calling for “zero tolerance for zero hour contracts” and wants public bodies like Tower Hamlets to refuse to deal with firms operating them.

Latest East London News Stories

18:47

Sister Christine Frost’s hard-pressed Neighbours in Poplar charity has started crowd-funding campaign to raise cash to replace the ageing minibus used on the Calais ‘refugee run’.

The director of campaign group Cage has been convicted of an offence under the Terrorism Act for refusing to hand over the pin to his mobile phone.

17:24

The future of NHS prescriptions is on the line with NHS consultations now under way that could decide if some items should not be routinely prescribed by GPs.

15:26

Parents and workers were in tears over the closure of a Bengali advisory service for those caring for family members with severe learning disabilities and physical problems.

14:37

The mayor who ditched his official limmo as soon as he took office has unveiled his latest bike port off east London’s Club Row to mark ‘car free’ day.

The director of campaign group Cage refused to hand over the pin to his mobile phone at Heathrow because it was “against his civil rights”, a court has heard.

12:38

Knife crime in London has risen by 20 per cent in the last year affecting communities across the capital including Tower Hamlets, Metropolitan Police figures show.

11:38

The controversial levy on selling alcohol and food after midnight in East London’s City Fringe ‘night economy’ district which faced a legal challenge is finally going ahead.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists

Competitions

Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Docklands and East London Advertiser
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now