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A TUC event today (Monday) will bring together leading figures from unions, business and community organisations to call for new rights for workers to end exploitation through zero-hours contracts.

The Zero in on Zero Hours event will take place at 6.30pm at Congress House. Details on how to attend are in the notes below.

The event is supported by Thompsons Solicitors, which has specialised in representing working people since it was founded in 1921.

It will be chaired by Daily Mirror journalist Ros Wynne-Jones. Speakers include:

  • Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC
  • Ian Hodson, National President of the BFAWU
  • Julian Richer, Entrepreneur and author of The Ethical Capitalist
  • Lynn Henderson, PCS national officer for Scotland and Ireland
  • Sherene Nelson-Cruddas, Better than Zero (Scottish campaign against zero-hours contracts)
  • Ripon Ray, Universal Credit Action Network
  • Bryan Simpson, Unite Hospitality

The event will be an opportunity to discuss how unions, good employers and voluntary sector organisations can campaign together in 2020 to put an end to the injustice of zero-hours contracts.

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, said:

“The government has promised new laws on workers’ rights. But the current proposals for a ‘right to request’ predictable hours will achieve nothing. Ireland has shown the way by banning zero-hours contracts. Britain must do the same.

“This isn’t just about doing the right thing for working people. It’s about supporting good employers too. It’s not fair if bad employers undercut them with business models based on the exploitation of workers.”

Ian Hodson, National President of the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union (BAFWU) said:

“Our members on zero-hours contracts are very vulnerable. Many of them feel powerless to complain, even if they suffer serious problems at work like bullying and sexual harassment. The response from managers can be threats to cut their hours of work. But they simply can’t afford to lose any pay, so what can they do?

“We have cases where managers text people to come straight in. But when they arrive, they find the same text was sent to several workers and only one is needed. And they don’t get their travel costs back, so it’s like being on negative pay.

“Lots of landlords won’t take you if you are on a zero-hours contract. And of course you can’t get a mortgage. So we have members who have been forced to live in places that are unfit for habitation and dangerous to their health.

“Nobody should have to live like that in 21st Century Britain. Every job should give people the basic security they need to live a decent life.”

Julian Richer, Founder and Managing Director of Richer Sounds, said:

“As an employer I care passionately about my colleagues. And I can’t imagine anything more likely to cause misery than not knowing day-to-day whether they will have enough money for food or rent.

“These evil ways of exploiting people at work must be banned – as indeed they are in the great majority of European countries. If we can’t give working people basic security, we should be ashamed.”

Editors note

- Attendance at the event: Journalists are welcome to attend the event this evening. Please book a place through Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/zero-in-on-zero-hours-tickets-86788204857

- TUC research on zero-hours contracts: TUC research has found that most people on zero-hours contracts are not on them by choice. Two-thirds (66%) of zero-hours workers would rather have a contract with guaranteed hours. And just one in four zero-hours workers (25%) say they prefer being on zero-hours contracts. The full research is here: https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/great-jobs-with-guaranteed-hours_0.pdf

- Action by BFAWU workers: The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) is the largest independent trade union in the food sector in the British Isles. They believe employees should feel secure and safe in their workplace and should be paid an equitable wage for the work that they do. In the last year, BFAWU workers have campaigned and taken industrial action over zero-hours contracts as part of the Fast Food Rights and McStrike campaigns. More information on BFAWU is here: https://www.bfawu.org/

- Julian Richer: Julian Richer is founder and managing director of Richer Sounds PLC, the U.K.’s biggest hi-fi and home cinema retailer. It features in the Guinness Book of Records for highest sales per square foot, has won the Which? best UK retailer award five times and has a Royal Warrant granted by the Prince of Wales. In May 2019 Julian announced that he was transferring 60% of the company into an employee owned trust. Richer Sounds gives 15% of its profits to charity, supporting 400 worthy causes last year. Julian has founded four non-profit organisations: Acts 435 to help those in need, ASB Help to help victims of anti-social behaviour, Richer Unsigned to help musicians and Tax Watch UK to expose aggressive tax avoidance. He’s written several books the most well-known being The Richer Way, published in 1995 and now in its sixth edition, and his latest book The Ethical Capitalist was launched in 2018 to promote responsible capitalism which has received favourable reviews.

- Thompsons Solicitors: Thompsons was founded in 1921 by Harry Thompson and was built on a vision of using the law to provide justice for working people. Today, that vision lives on in their expert litigation teams who form the most experienced personal injury, employment rights and trade union rights practice in the UK. Their specialist lawyers are fully regulated, accredited and recognised for their skill, empathy and expertise by the likes of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, Action Against Medical Accidents, Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500.