Yesterday, North East MEP Jude Kirton-Darling chaired a European Parliament hearing on zero-hours contracts and precarious work. It was an opportunity to hear the experience and concerns of petitioners over the negative impact that uncertainty has on workers.
The North East of England 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.
MEPs heard about this rise and the problems these contracts cause workers and discussed ways to tackle the issue while maintaining flexibility of working hours important to many employees.
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:
“Zero-hours contracts and other forms of precarious employment have created an employment culture where workers are disposable and where workers’ rights are undermined. Precarious work is corrosive socially, economically and politically.
“This hearing is an important step in making European lawmakers aware of the issue and in creating policy at a European level to tackle the uncertainty that these contracts cause people.
“I will continue to highlight the injustice of zero-hours contracts at a European level in order to secure a better deal for workers in the North East”
Speakers at the hearing included Ian Hodson, the National President of the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union (BFAWU) and Kerstin Howald, representative of the European Federation of Food, Agriculture, Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT).