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- South West sees huge spike in zero hours contracts from previous year
- TUC calls for ban on one-sided zero-hours contracts

According to analysis of recent government figures by the TUC South West, there are more workers being employed on zero hours contracts than ever before – with almost 107,000 people alone (106,932) in the South West employed under a zero-hours contract (ZHCs). 

The region has seen one of the biggest increases in this type of insecure work contract across the country.

With a 42% jump on the previous year, 32,000 workers report being tied into a zero-hours contract that do not offer a guarantee of hours from one week to the next. 

Despite higher levels of employment, the trade union body warns this is no time for celebration.

According to the TUC South West, insecure employment contracts often impact negatively on workers’ lives and make it hard to stay afloat financially.

Over half of zero-hours workers struggle to pay basic household bills because they can’t get enough work.

TUC survey (2017)

Following a recent survey of zero-hours workers conducted by the TUC they found:

  • The main reason workers are on insecure work contracts is because it’s the only type of work available to them – with most wishing alternative, permanent contracts instead;
  • Over half (54%) say they struggle to pay bills because they can’t get enough work;
  • And most have had shifts cancelled last minute thus making it difficult to plan child-care and personal appointments. 

The TUC has also calculated the exchequer loses £1.9bn a year because ZHCs workers earn on average a third less than permanent workers.

Nobody can earn a living or raise a family off this type of insecurity.

Commenting on the latest figures, Nigel Costley, regional secretary of the TUC South West said:

“We know the majority of workers on zero-hours contracts don’t want to be on them. They’re completely one-sided and cause so much financial strain.

“Most of these contracts are also used in essential, yet low paid industries like hospitality, construction, and social care.

“Nobody can earn a living or raise a family off this type of insecurity.

“The flexibility for workers claimed as an advantage of zero-hour contracts can still be achieved in ways that are not so unfair.

“Boris Johnson thanked the working classes for lending him their vote. One of his first duties as Prime Minister should be to ban zero-hours contracts and ensure ordinary working people get the permanent, guaranteed hours contracts they deserve.

“New Zealand has done it. Ireland has done it. It’s time the UK stepped up and banned zero-hours contracts.“

Editors note

- The latest statistics on number of people employed on a zero hours contract can be found on the ONS website here

- TUC analysis: Number of workers on zero-hours contracts (Oct - Dec 2019)

UK 974,403
South West 106,932
West of England 21,386
Bristol 9624
Cornwall 10,693
Devon 25,664
Plymouth 5026
Bournemouth and Poole 9945
Dorset 16,040
Gloucestershire 19,248
Somerset 20,317
Wiltshire 14,971

*Estimates on a sub-regional level have been calculated by apportioning the total number of workers on zero-hours contracts in the south west and distributing it by the proportion of total number of workers in each sub-region.

- The report on the impact insecure work has on public finances can be found here.- A summary of the TUC survey on zero-hours workers conducted by GQR Research can be found here

- 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 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living. 

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