“We should be tackling the issue
of zero hours contracts not just as workers
and trade unionists but also as citizens
and service users,” UNISON’s
Jane Aitchison told delegates, as Congress
condemned their use as exploitative, and
one-sided in favour of the employer.
In a composite from the EIS, UCATT, UCU
and the CWU, Congress pledged to campaign
with affiliates, civic bodies and supportive
political parties to outlaw the use of
such contracts across the public and private
sector, including the Scottish and UK
Jane pointed to UNISON Scotland’s
“Time to Care” document, which
showed that only 10% of respondents were
on zero hours contracts, “Now there’s
a union dividend right there,” said
“But zero hours contracts are worrying
and exploitative on many levels. Not only
are they about keeping the wage bill down,
they are also being used as a means of
disciplining the workforce.
“We’ve had many reports from
members on zero hours and nominal hours
contracts about their fear of raising
issues with their employer. Because if
they do suddenly their shifts dry up.
“Needless to say this has a chilling
effect on what people will do to stand
up for themselves.”
She warned however, that it doesn’t
just stop workers raising issues about
their own welfare, but of those they are
tasked with caring for too.
“Whether the right level of care
is being provided , what clients’
needs actually are - as opposed to the
level of care the employer decides fits
with the contract they have with the local
authority – these are the sort of
questions that will go unasked because
of fear on the part of the workforce.
“Congress we have had people tell
us that they would be scared to raise
issue of abuse for fear of what would
be done by way of exclusion from work.
“If we are serious about providing
high standards of care for our elderly
and vulnerable, it can’t be delivered
by a workforce too afraid of being cut
off from work to raise the issues of standards
"If we want to put an end to the
scandal of the 15 minute care visit -
then we need a workforce being paid for
the work they are doing.
“And if we want a workforce that
will provide the care for our elderly
and vulnerable that we’d like to
see then we need a workforce that is earning
enough money to properly care for themselves
– and we won’t see that unless
and until the issue of zero hours contracts
is tackled,” said Jane.