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New TUC analysis finds zero-hour workers do double the night shifts and are paid on average £4 an hour less than other workers

Today (Monday) marks the start of HeartUnions Week 2019, when trade union members across the midlands will be promoting the things they do to help working people in the region.

This year HeartUnions Week will also campaign for a ban on zero-hours contracts. Union leaders will commit to negotiate an end to zero-hour contracts in workplaces where they have recognition. And an online petition will build public support for a ban.

The most recent official figures show that across the midlands there are 138,000 (East Mids 65,000, West Mids 73,000) people whose main job is a zero-hour contract. But this is not by choice – a TUC poll found that that two-thirds of zero-hour workers prefer to be on permanent, secure contracts.

New TUC analysis published today shows that zero-hour workers are having a tougher time than those in secure employment on a range of measures.

Night shifts: Nearly a quarter (23%) of zero-hour contracts workers regularly do night shifts, compared to one in ten of the rest of the workforce. Night-working has been linked to heart disease, shortened life expectancy and higher risk of cancer.
Lower wages: Zero-hours contract workers are on average paid around a third (£4.10) less an hour than other workers. This is despite 12% of zero-hours workers being supervisors and managers.
Lack of work: One in seven zero-hour workers (16%) do not have work each week. And they work on average 25 hours a week, compared to average workers, who work for 36 hours a week.

Lee Barron, TUC Midlands Regional Secretary:

“The vast majority of people on zero-hour contracts in want out. The only flexibility offered to them is what’s good for employers.

“Zero-hours workers regularly work through the night for low pay, putting their health at risk. And many face the constant uncertainty of not knowing when their next shift will come.

“We need the government to stamp out these unfair contracts. Working people in the midlands need solid jobs, with guaranteed hours, to provide for a decent family life.” 


Editors note

Notes to editors:

- HeartUnions week: is marked by the TUC every year in the week of Valentine’s day, as an opportunity to celebrate and showcase the work that trade unions do to help working people up and down the country every day

- The median gross hourly pay is £7.70 for ZH workers and £11.80 for those not on ZHCs

- Looking for a new job: 16% of zero-hour workers are looking for a new or additional job, compared to 7% of those not on ZHCs

- Night working and zero-hour contracts: 23% of ZH workers have them as a usual part of their working pattern as opposed to 11% of those not on ZHCs

- Night shifts and the risks to health: A TUC report from 2015 (A Hard Day’s Night) which spoke of the risks to health and work-life balance from night shift working.

- Data on night working, numbers working, days worked, and pay is taken from the Q2 2018 of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (LFS) data, as this is the most recent with information on zero-hour contracts, accessed through Nesstar. Data on average hours worked, whether looking for new or additional work, and percentage of workers left without work in a reference week is taken from the ONS release, based on the same Q2 2018 LFS data:…

- The TUC surveyed zero-hour workers in 2017, which showed that the majority of ZH workers don’t have access to basic rights such as sick pay, holiday pay and paternity/maternity pay. The full link to the report can be found here:…

- The TUC is calling on the government to:

Ban zero hours contracts
- Introduce a reasonable notice period for shifts, and payment for cancelled shifts
- Increase enforcement of workers’ rights; and
- Enable trade unions to access workplaces to tell workers how joining a trade union can improve their life at work.
- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 49 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.

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