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Reports from zero-hour contract protests in London, Dundee and Sheffield

Reports from zero-hour contract protests in London and Dundee

[caption id="attachment_845" align="aligncenter" width="595" caption="Youth Fight for Jobs protest outside McDonalds on Sheffield Hight Street - photo by Sheffield Star"]Youth Fight for Jobs protest outside McDonalds on Sheffield Hight Street - photo by Sheffield Star[/caption]

London: Youth Fight for Jobs march along Oxford Street targeting zero-hour contract employers

Akila Kumar, Youth Fight for Jobs London

As part of its continued campaign against the use of zero-hour contracts by employers, on August 10 2013 Youth Fight for Jobs held a march along Oxford Street outside several big-name shops which have been exposed as employing their workers on these contracts.

Employees on zero-hour contracts are not guaranteed work and cannot predict how many hours they will be asked to work within a given week; therefore they cannot be sure if they will be earning enough to cover their costs. In addition, they are denied the benefits given to employees with a more stable contract such as holidays and sick-pay.

Our march served to raise awareness of the difficulties workers on zero-hour contracts face and to demand that employers give their workers fairer contracts with guaranteed working hours and holidays.

The march stopped at several food-chains including McDonalds, which employs 90% of its workforce on zero-hour contracts, as well as Burger King and Subway. Employees at the Subway are made to waive their right to limit their working week to 48-hours in order to be employed.

With the use of a mega-phone, outside each shop, we loudly took it in turns to chant, expose the greed of these employers, and handed out leaflets with details about zero-hour contracts to passers-by and staff. Lots of people approached us wanting to find out more about the campaign and how to join it.

The protest then moved on to other big-name retailers including Boots, Sports Direct and Starbucks. Sports Direct also employs 90% of its workforce on zero-hour contracts.

Starbucks has recently been exposed for its tax evasion. Starbucks paid £5m this June, despite UK sales of £3bn. In Britain, the company has only paid tax once in 15 years. However, even with its long history of tax evasion, the company still believes it is not earning enough to be able to employ all of its workers on stable contracts with decent pay and guaranteed work. To its pay measly level of tax (less than 1%), Starbucks didn’t eat into any profits, instead they removed workers’ breaks, maternity leave, and other rights.

The march received a great response from passers-by; we handed out 1000 ‘Are you Sick of your Boss?’ leaflets. The success of the day was marked by the number of signatures we got for our petition and the number of people interested in joining Youth Fight for Jobs.

We will keep up the pressure on the bosses who employ their workers on zero-hour contracts and continue the fight to end the use of zero-hour contracts by employers, as part of our demand for fairer working conditions for all workers.

Dundee: Youth Fight for Jobs protest outside Sports Direct

Wayne Scott, Youth Fight for Jobs Dundee

On August 10th, Youth Fight for Jobs held a protest outside Sports Direct in Dundee. This protest was in response to the shocking recent news which revealed that 90% of Sports Direct workers are employed on zero-hour contracts. Recently the company has been boasting about its bonus scheme which is paid only to full time executives. Sports Direct – along with other high street stores – is owned by Mike Ashley, a billionaire tycoon.

These contracts are used to squeeze profit out of the workforce. Workers employed on zero-hour contracts are in permanent insecurity, not knowing how many hours they will be working week to week, not knowing if they can afford to pay the bills. The bosses also use these contracts to oust those who fight for better working conditions.

This protest was part of the ‘Are you Sick of your Boss?’ campaign launched by Youth Fight for Jobs. We want to organise young workers.

We were joined by other campaigners including activists from the Dundee Bin the Bedroom Tax campaign.

Minutes after assembling, we were confronted by Sports Direct managers who threatened to call the police if we did not move. We were perfectly within our rights to peacefully protest against the exploitation of their workforce, therefore we refused to leave. We didn’t give in to the aggression of management.

Many passers-by stopped to sign our petition and took away our leaflets; some were interested in getting involved in a campaign. Many had heard about the protest earlier in the day on a local radio station. The overwhelming mood from the public was one of support.

We marched went into the store with placards to distribute leaflets. We were asked to leave by management and security but were not physically removed. We took the opportunity to leaflet and talk to staff employed on these contracts. One staff member told me; “I’m sick of my boss taking the mick, I don’t know how many hours I’ll be working one week to the next”. We then left the store to continue campaigning on the streets.

This is part of a series of actions called by Youth Fight for Jobs, we will continue with a protest outside of a McDonald’s in Dundee this Friday 16th August. An estimated 1 million workers in Britain are employed on zero-hour contracts. The trade union movement must build a campaign to demand an end to the practice of zero-hour contracts, while at the same time fighting for decent jobs for all, a living minimum wage, and the end to anti-trade union laws.

Link to photos:

Sheffield: Youth Fight for Jobs protest outside McDonalds

Local paper, The Sheffield Star, covered our protest, revealing Sheffield City Labour council employ 438 on zero-hour contracts. Sheffield City Council justified their disgusting employment practice by claiming that they pay some council workers such poverty wages they're desperate enough to need a 2nd (zero-hour) job.

Join the next set of protests against zero-hour contracts organised by Youth Fight for Jobs

Friday 16th August Dundee McDonalds

Saturday 17th August Leeds and York

Saturday 24th August Bristol 1pm - Youth Fight for Jobs zero-hour Walk of Shame – march through Bristol city centre to name & shame zero-hour contract employers

Saturday 24th August Plymouth protest outside Sports Direct at 12pm and public meeting on Monday 26th August at 1pm

contact Youth Fight for Jobs on 02085587947
catch us on facebook ‘Youth Fight for Jobs’
follow us on twitter @youthfight4jobs #soyb
OR text JOIN, plus your name & postcode to 07749379010