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'45 Years To Stamp Out Zero Hours Contracts'

Monday, September 25, 2017


TfL’s historic decision on Uber shows how employers can be regulated.

GMB Union, the union leading campaigning against precarious work, today published new analysis showing it will take 45 years to stamp out the epidemic of zero hours contracts if the current trend continues.

The latest ONS figures, released this week, show a drop in the number of workers on zero hours contracts of 20,000 compared to last year – from 903,000 workers to 883,000.

At that rate of change, the number of people on zero hours wouldn't disappear until 2061. [1]

Ireland looks to be the next country call time on zero hours contracts, [2] while on Friday Transport for London made the historic decision not to renew Uber’s licence. [3]

At Labour Party conference, GMB is launching ‘Tackling Insecure Work: political action from around the world', and calling on the government to take action to stamp out the proliferation of precarious work - be it abuse of agency contracts or bogus self employment - and to learn lessons from other countries that are already taking action. [4]

The report by the University of Sheffield's Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) for GMB [5] illustrates the ways insecure work is being tackled across the globe, and while globally we are nowhere near close enough to eradicating the scourge of insecure work as a business model, it shows that with political will action can and is being taken.

Eye-catching examples include:

· Banning zero hours contracts (New Zealand)

· Providing guaranteed hours per week in short hours contracts (Germany, France and Italy)

· Preventing the use of agency contracts in the construction sector (Germany and Japan)

· Limiting the number of a temporary and agency workers a company can employ (Norway and Italy)

· Limiting the number of times fixed term contracts can be renewed (Netherlands, Spain, Bulgaria, Greece, Norway, France and Italy)

· Ensuring severance pay for temporary workers (France, Spain and Slovenia)

· Giving temporary workers the same access to training as permanent workers (Denmark)

The action is not confined to left-leaning governments, with New Zealand’s National Party banning zero hours contracts and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has provided additional rights for temporary and agency workers following campaigns by trade unions.

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said:

“People employed through agencies, on zero hours or who are falsely self-employed could have the tap turned off on their hours with no notice and with no compensation.

“We already hear stories of workers who get on the bus to work only to get a text saying they aren’t needed that day.

“How can you plan for childcare, let alone your future, when you’ve no idea if you wage packet will be from one week to the next? It’s no way to live and it has to stop.

"GMB's report from SPERI shows that when there is political will to take action, governments can make a difference to millions of working people.

"The UK government could act, but is choosing not to and as a result is being left behind so many other countries and advanced economies who are tackling insecure work.

“Only on Friday TfL made a brave decision on Uber – showing how tough regulation can tackle bad practices.

“Working people cannot afford the status quo. At the current rate it will take 45 years to get rid of zero hours contracts.

"A whole generation of zero hours workers hasn’t even been born yet.

"This should be an easy choice for a government that says it cares about working people - let's see some action."

Tom Hunt, Policy Research Officer for SPERI at the University of Sheffield and co-author of the report, added:

"Around the world, from Germany to New Zealand, politicians from across the political spectrum have taken steps to tackle insecure forms of work.

“The UK will require its own responses but these international examples show how politicians in other major economies have acted to respond to public concerns and improve job security.

“We hope this report will contribute to the UK debate and help shape decision-making."


Contact: GMB press office on 07958 156846 or at

Note to editors

[1] GMB analysis of figures published by the ONS, Contracts that do not guarantee a minimum number of hours: September 2017, 19 September 2017,


[3] GMB Scores Historic Victory as TfL Tells Uber to 'Get Out of London’

Friday, September 22, 2017

Decision follows GMB’s legal victory over Uber, forcing company to defend their record on drivers' employment rights and public safety.

Read more:

[4] Examples include: Germany, France, New Zealand, Ireland, Norway, Italy, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Spain, Denmark, Slovenia, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Czech Republic, Finland, Austria, Hungary, South Korea and Argentina. There are also examples of states taking action in the U.S. New York and Oregon, District of Columbia and in Brandenburg, Germany.

[5] The Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) is an academic institute based at the University of Sheffield. The institute aims to bring together leading international researchers, policy-makers, journalists and opinion formers to develop new ways of thinking about the economic and political challenges posed for the whole world by the current combination of financial crisis, shifting economic power and environmental threat.

Link to SPERI report:

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