Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Zero-Hours Struggle

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Zero-Hours Struggle

Article excerpt

Byline: Rachel Wearmouth Regional Affairs Reporter rachel.wearmouth@ncjmedia.co.uk

A"DEVASTATING" number of North East people are struggling to get by on a zero-hours contract, a union has warned.

The TUC has published report which estimates there are 52,000 people -enough to fill Newcastle United's home ground St James' Park - in the region employed on the controversial contracts, something it says is "deeply damaging for society".

The study, called The Decent Jobs Deficit, also reveals those on the casual contracts are earning around PS300-a-week less than those on a permanent contract.

The report shows average weekly earnings for zero-hours workers are just PS188, compared to PS479 for permanent workers.

The research also reveals that zerohours workers are five times more likely not to qualify for sick pay as a result of their lower wages.

The TUC says 39% of zero-hours workers earn less than PS111-a-week - the qualifying threshold for statutory sick pay - compared to 8% of permanent employees.

Beth Farhat, Regional Secretary of the Northern TUC, said: "We estimate over 52,000 North East workers are employed on zero hour contracts which is a devastating number of people experiencing insecurity, and lack of basic workplace rights such as sick pay.

"Research from our region shows that this type of work can be disastrous for family relationships as it increases pressure on people often in quite desperate situations with no alternative.

"Such exploitation by employers is deeply damaging to society and for the economy since insecure work limits access to basic goods and services such as renting a flat.

"The Coalition might claim we're in recovery, but one reason why income tax revenues are down last year is because too many new jobs are low paid, insecure and with insufficient hours. …

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