Zero Hours? Zero Credibility

Labour are being so contemptuous with the voters in this campaign that it really is time to call them out.

‘Zero Hours’ is the new ‘Bankers’ Bonuses’. Say it loudly enough and often enough and maybe you will fool people into thinking this is real economic policy for a nation.

Labour chose to dedicate April Fools’ Day to this policy. Let’s look at what they take us for.

As {scroll to 7:59}, Andrew Neill reminded Lucy Powell on her car crash interview, zero hours contracts form a tiny part of the UK economy – a tiny part of the working population.

ON TV, Lucy was trying to get out of admitting that Labour would borrow much more to fund their huge spending programme.

So she said ‘We will increase the tax base by getting people into higher wage jobs.’

‘How,’ asked Neill, reasonably enough.

‘Zero hours zero hours zero hours’ Lucy bleated on. ‘Huge rise in zero hours and…’

‘There are only 700,000 people on zero hours contracts in Britain,’ said Andrew Neill. ‘Of those, a third are students and another third don’t want to work any more hours. So that leaves 233,000 people in a country of sixty-five million. How are you going to enlarge the tax base on that?’

This is the key point on zero hours contracts; they are essentially the bogeyman name for ‘casual labour.’ And 2/3 of the small amount of folk using them don’t want, or can’t, work regular hours – because they’re in college, or have another reason.

Leave aside that 68 Labour MPs, including Ed Miliband’s PPS, employ staff on zero hours or casual contracts. ( I paid my interns the London living wage and paid them a full day every day they worked. And I advertised the place openly).

Leave aside that Ed Miliband is the local MP for Doncaster, and his Labour-run local council, that reports to him as the party leader, is the BIGGEST user of zero hours contracts in the country – Doncaster has {edit – 2,750} people employed on zero hours contracts. What has Ed done to stop that?

Leave aside that forcing employers to offer a structured contract will simply mean fewer of these jobs, which 2/3 work perfectly happily in.

Here’s the key point. The numbers on zero hours contracts who might prefer like a regular contract – even if you put EVERY ONE of them into Miliband’s camp without asking them – are LESS THAN 250K people in a nation of 65,000,000 people.

Stop taking us for fools, Labour. Just stop it.

‘What else will you do to balance the books?’ Andrew Neil asked Lucy Powell.

‘Well, we’re going to cut ministerial pay,’ she said.

Pathetic. Utterly pathetic. Give us costed policies that matter.


  1. nigelpwsmith · April 1, 2015

    Dear Chief Secretary
    I’m afraid there is no money……
    The one reason why no-one should vote Labour at the election.
    They would SPEND SPEND SPEND and make the same mistake again, putting us in debt up to our eyeballs and cause even greater job losses.

  2. louisemensch · April 1, 2015

    Hear, hear Nigel

    It’s election season and still – zero hours gimmicks, bankers bonuses. Act like a serious party

  3. Libby Price · April 1, 2015

    I know a number of friends who, as working Mums, find that a zero hours contract works perfectly – gives them the flexibility they need around school holidays / ill kids etc. These contracts are not inherently EVIL!!

    • louisemensch · April 1, 2015

      Exactly – they are a choice for many part-timers. Look at the tiny overall numbers when you take these types and students out.

      Tell us instead about job creation or your plans for spending cuts or tax rises. Not gimmicks.

  4. Doncaster Council does not employ 2500 people on zero hours contracts and it is not the biggest user of zero hours contracts in the country. Please amend this major inaccuracy and make clear to your readers.

    • louisemensch · April 1, 2015

      Calling them “relief workers” doesn’t help your case even one tiny bit. From the word “However” in your blog on we can all see that this is what Doncaster is doing and the Standard’s piece is quite correct.

    • Alfred Barton · April 1, 2015

      You appear to have redefined the meaning of a zero hours contract to suit your argumentry. …..

  5. louisemensch · April 1, 2015

    “Yes, there are circumstances where the Council uses relief staff. For example, we do use occasional drivers and escorts, interpreters, canvassers, people who carry out traffic census and door to door deliveries/postal drops. The Council engages these relief workers to cover for staff absence, peaks and troughs in workload and to carry out functions that are by their nature occasional or seasonal.


    none of these staff are restricted to only being relief workers for Doncaster Council and can have other jobs, be pensioners, have other relief contracts elsewhere etc. Some of them even have other jobs with the Council.
    none are required to be available for work whenever DMBC asks them. They can turn down work that is offered to them at no detriment to themselves and DMBC will simply offer that work to another relief worker.
    The relief jobs on offer are not intended to provide regular employment. If a job is known to provide regular employment then I fully expect that the staff member will be given an appropriate contract, such as a fixed term contract for part time work.

    The Council’s Chief Executive and I have also been absolutely clear that the Council should take steps to avoid a situation whereby relief workers do so much relief work as to almost constitute a regular working pattern and therefore could be classed as employees.

    The Council has therefore reviewed all relief workers to ensure that any relief staff members who end up undertaking regular hours are moved onto appropriate contracts. I have asked that this process continues to be undertaken at regular intervals.”

    Yes, and this is what zero hours contracts are. How many “relief workers” have you employed in 2013-2014? How many “relief jobs” have you advertised or filled? Let’s have the exact numbers please. They should be to hand, given your “review”, shouldn’t they? How many of your “relief workers” were determined to have “a regular working pattern”?

    Publish the full and verifiable figures otherwise we will continue to call your “relief workers” what they are.

    • Alfred Barton · April 1, 2015

      So they are on zero hours contracts then…

      • lousuperhands · April 1, 2015

        She doesn;t live in the real world. One were Employers can hire ANYONE on a zero hour contract, not just the criteria she sets out, also the amount of people in work that have to claim benefits is as high as ever.

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