Search

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

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

18:49

Detectives have charged a man with the murder of Zdenek Makar in London’s East End, Scotland Yard confirmed today.

12:43

A memorial walk commemorating George Lansbury, the man who led the famous Poplar borough rates revolt nearly 100 years ago, was held yesterday on his former stomping ground in London’s East End.

Yesterday, 18:54

A chamber concert is being performed tonight at one of London’s weirdest places—deep in one of the two bascule chambers of the iconic Tower Bridge.

Yesterday, 16:57

Police have arrested three men in connection to the death of Zdenek Makar in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Fri, 13:48

A businessman beaten to death following a row with a group of teenagers in a chicken shop in London’s East End has been identified tonight by Scotland as Zdenek Makar.

Thu, 19:45

A heated council meeting was halted when protesters prevented members speaking during a row about ‘mother tongue’ classes being cut in London’s East End with its large immigrant population.

Thu, 17:50

A murder investigation has been launched following the death of a man in Poplar last night.

Thu, 08:56

Detectives are investigating a suspicious death in east London during the night after a man was found dying in the street who they think may have been attacked.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Competitions

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

As we grow older it becomes more and more important to have means to travel about safely and quickly. Our friendship groups and families grow and the need to have a car that is not only safe but also fast and big enough for all our needs is ever more important. There are many cars on the market for such needs but none deals with them as efficiently or as neatly as a VW Golf Estate. These cars are build strong, long lasting and spacious for a reason. They cater to the needs of many and are some of the most popular cars currently on the market.

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