Zero hour contracts protest in Sheffield

Members of Youth Fight for Jobs protest outside McDonalds in Sheffield.
Members of Youth Fight for Jobs protest outside McDonalds in Sheffield.
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A protest was held in Sheffield against zero hour contracts - as the city’s council revealed it employs hundreds of staff on them.

Campaign group Youth Fight for Jobs protested outside McDonalds, on High Street, against the fast food giant and other major companies using the contracts.

Protesters argue the contracts are unfair because people who are often already low paid are not guaranteed set hours each week.

Now Sheffield Council has revealed 438 of its 8,240 workforce excluding school staff are on zero hours contracts, too - despite Labour considering a ban on the practice if it wins the next general election.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “Of the 438 staff, 208 only have a zero hours contract. Some 230 have other contracts within the council so their zero hours contract could be classed as additional hours. Schools do not use zero hours contracts.”

Some zero hours jobs are currently being advertised on the council’s website.

Iain Dalton, Yorkshire organiser of Youth Fight for Jobs, said: “We now see large numbers of mainstream employers using zero hours contracts. We are fighting to win real contracts with guaranteed hours.”

Sheffield Council has come under fire from opposition councillors - although the coalition Government was also found to have 270 civil service staff on zero hours contracts.

Ministers have now promised to review the law which allows the contracts.

Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, Liberal Democrat group leader, said: “After calling for zero hour contracts to be outlawed, Labour must be more than a little embarrassed to learn that the council they control are currently advertising new jobs on these terms.

“I’m pleased the Lib Dems in government are looking into this issue nationally.”

Coun Bryan Lodge, Sheffield Council cabinet member for finance, said: “We use these types of contracts to assist with flexibility and absence, primarily across the adult social care service.

“When people take on these contracts, there is no obligation for them to be available to work, and they are popular with staff as they can have flexibility around childcare, education and other work.

“These employees have consistent management support, supervision and training, and accrue annual leave and statutory sick pay.”

* What do you think about so-called zero hour contracts? Should they be banned to improve working conditions?

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