A Sheffield business body has defended the use of ‘exploitative’ zero-hours contracts after pledges made by Labour leader Ed Miliband to outlaw them.
Unions in Sheffield have spoken out against the contracts, which employ workers without fixed hours and in many cases without benefits like sick pay and overtime.
Rod Padley, branch secretary for Unison Sheffield, said: “It’s absolutely appalling that anybody should have to work on a zero hours contract.
“You have no control over your shifts and you can’t get a mortgage. You don’t know what hours you are going to be doing from one week to the next.
“Everybody who works should be entitled to sick pay. Zero hours suits big businesses but it doesn’t suit the workers. It’s a way for businesses to exploit workers.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Zero hours contracts mean misery for workers and their families, stuck on this hand-to-mouth existence, not knowing from one week to next whether there’ll be any work, let alone enough to cover the bills.”
But Sheffield Chamber of Commerce executive director Richard Wright says the contracts can benefit both sides.
He said “It’s too easy to generalise and say we should get rid of something.
“If contracts do exploit people then they will never get my support. But the fact is zero-hours contracts in some instances are what both sides want.
“It’s easy to say ‘it’s rubbish’ but in some instances they are okay. There are people who enjoy the flexibility. Sometimes that flexibility is just as good for the employee as it is for the employer.
“I would be supportive of zero hours contracts being kept. I know people who work zero hour contracts.
“I don’t think they are always bad but you mustn’t use it to exploit people.”