The European Parliament has voted to tackle the precariousness of zero-hours contracts, with MEPs urging the EU Commission to take immediate action.
The number of workers with fixed-term and part-time contracts has increased in the EU over the past 15 years. The Committee on Petitions, in which North East MEP Jude Kirton-Darling sits, has heard strong evidence about the growth of the abusive use of precarious work, most notably through the McDonald’s campaign. This campaign gained over 31,000 signatories which resulted in formal petitions being brought to the Committee, all relating to working conditions in the fast food chain and raising concerns about their compatibility with EU legislation and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Jude Kirton-Darling MEP, who is a long-standing supporter of workers’ rights and has helped move forward the investigation into working conditions in McDonald’s restaurants across EU member states, said:
“Precarious employment, including zero-hour contracts, leads to inadequate access to social protection such as benefits and protection from unfair dismissal. It impinges on career development and training and therefore results into overall life precariousness. It is shameful that in this day and age those working for a global giant like McDonalds have had their most basic rights – maternity leave, paid holiday, redundancy – withheld through zero hours contracts.
“The North East of England, my home and the constituency I represent in the European Parliament, was recently named the Zero-Hours Capital of the UK with ONS figures revealing the number of people on a zero-hours contract in this region was up 11,000 to 45,000 in August 2017 on last year’s figure, a 30% rise.
“This type of contract falls within the remit of the EU part-time work directive, which guarantees the same employment conditions for part-time workers and full-time workers. Today I, along with fellow MEPs, urge the Commission to provide evidence of how it will enforce these rules to give those in precarious work the fundamental rights that are being denied to them.
“As women are more likely to work part-time or on time-limited or low-wage contracts, I also called on the Commission and Member States to assess the legislation concerning precarious work for its gender impact. Otherwise, we risk slowing down the progress in combating and eliminating the gender pay and pension gap."