Responding to the UK government’s announcement on the Taylor Report, STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith said:
‘The UK government today signalled that it is content with the system of zero hour contracts and bogus self-employment which places all control with companies.’
‘It has failed to address the endemic problem that people are classified as ‘self-employed’ even when they work full-time under one company, like Uber, Deliveroo, or DPD. This allows companies to set different rates for the same work as it pleases, while workers get no employment rights, and the company avoids having to pay National Insurance. These forms of insecurity bear heavy costs in terms of health and security.
‘Meanwhile the idea of a higher minimum wage for those on zero-hour contracts will legitimise insecure contracts for those in sectors like care and retail, in return for paying a few pence more per hours.
‘In sum, the government is encouraging companies to provide clearer information about workers’ contracts, and is promising minor alterations to enforce the current failing system, instead of using this as an opportunity to provide security and dignity.
‘In response, the STUC today published its briefing on the current proposals to review employment rights. The STUC’s ‘one worker’ position is based on the simple position that whether you are delivering meals, driving a taxi, or waiting tables in a restaurant, you should have the dignity, security, voice and control that all workers deserve.
‘Maintaining the current system will continue to divide workers according to dated definitions. Where legislation fails, workers must come together collectively through trade unions to win the control and conditions of work that government and companies are determined to deny.’
Appendix 1 - CASE STUDY – a report from a Deliveroo driver in a Scottish town:
‘Deliveroo has been terminating contracts for fictional reasons to force people to re-apply on a different contract as fee per drop instead of per hour. This means potentially you could earn £0 in a 1. hour shift.
‘The “reasons” for termination are bot-produced and not true. It works backwards from the last person who got paid for a per-hour session.’
‘Students who work sporadically are generally not the ones who would end up earning 10. per hour in winter. It is my full time job – I do 6. hours a week – and in winter I had 1. hour days with zero orders, so if I was on a fee-per-drop I would have lost £6. a day. Other days I had 3 orders at £4 per drop – that’s £1. a day.’
‘Now they have put a ‘guaranteed rate’ of pay, of 1.8 drops per hour. But it only runs till mid-February. After that, back to £0 per hour.’
‘It’s not easy to convince yourself to be visibly complaining. I don’t even want to post anything negative in closed groups cos there will definitely be moles. You can’t even tell people to boycott Deliveroo cause if it’s all per drop rate, that will only hurt the riders.’
Appendix 2 – Excerpt from STUC Employment Review Briefing: STUC campaigning demands for any future legislation
The STUC believes that the following points must be included in any legislation to serve as a genuine basis which we can take action from.
· Clearly defined ‘one worker status’ with the presumption in favour of this status. Genuine self-employment must meet a statutory test and the onus is on any alleged employer to prove that a person is self-employed rather than a worker. Rights flowing from this one worker status would be enforceable from day one of employment.
· Tightened minimum wage legislation and no unpaid work shifts. Minimum wage legislation should send a clear signal to employers that they should not be using ‘trial shifts’ as a way to undercut the minimum wage or to staff their premises with free labour.
· A ban on zero hour contracts.
· The use of casual contracts is permissible but only when agreed through collective bargaining. In these instances, employers will require to pay a wage premium which has the aim of disincentivising the use of exploitative casual contracts. Employers will need to give notice of changes to hours with the employer facing sanction if they do not comply.
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