Bastards, just awful, terrible, worker exploiting, scum sucking bastards

It is utterly shameful to find these working practices in 21st-century Britain. These workers contend not just with a lack of guaranteed stable income and take-home earnings below the minimum wage: they suffer the health consequences of working through illness; accumulate no rights to a private pension; and have difficulties getting a mortgage or a tenancy agreement.

Employment law urgently needs updating to ensure these individuals can enjoy the same rights the majority of employees take for granted. The TUC has proposed several reforms, including giving individuals who work regular hours with the same employer an entitlement to a written contract that guarantees them those hours and putting the onus on employers to convince an employment tribunal that an individual is genuinely self-employed. It should not take newspaper investigations to uncover these working practices: there needs to be much better enforcement of the existing law. But enforcement relies too heavily on individuals bringing cases to employment tribunals and there have been big drops in the number of cases brought since upfront fees were introduced in 2012. There is too little focus on proactive enforcement. In sectors where enforcement agencies exist, resources have been cut in the last few years. In many sectors where bad practice is rife, such as social care and construction, there is no proactive enforcement regime.

Unions also have a critical role to play in representing workers. But membership rates have been in decline for decades, with coverage particularly poor in the low-paid private sector, where we see some of the biggest problems. While organising in more fragmented workplaces is undoubtedly a challenge, unions have been slow to innovate.

Theresa May launched her premiership with an explicit pledge to crack down on irresponsible business practices. Whether or not her government prioritises the modernisation of employment law will be a real test of that commitment.

Last time I wrote for the Guardian was a few years ago. They’re offered me no work at all since then. A zero hours contract with quite literally zero hours. Last time I did offer to work for them they didn’t even bother to reply. And of course along with that last £85 I did get there was no holiday pay, no sick pay, no pension contribution, no paid time off nor breaks.

Yes, I agree, time that exploitative employment practices are brought to heel. The use of freelancers is clearly and obviously exploitative, isn’t it?

25 thoughts on “Bastards, just awful, terrible, worker exploiting, scum sucking bastards”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    I’ve just ended my zero hours contract with the Govt., again no sick pay, no holiday pay, no guaranteed hours. Suited me, although they did regret it when I turned some work down that was needed urgently.

  2. Talking of exploitative practices and the good ol’ Labour movement standing up for workers’ rights, I wonder how paying 30p and hour to Bangladeshis to print T shirts for the Corbyn campaign sit – especially as they sell them for £10 each…

  3. The use of freelancers is clearly and obviously exploitative, isn’t it?

    Yeah because working for Transline / Shirebrook / Sports Direct or Hermes is just like being a freelance writer…

  4. Tough .You have gone along with every successful attempt to reform/ ruin the wages+employment system of everybody in this country .

  5. ukliberty,

    And what’s wrong with that?

    “We received damning testimonies”. Are they short of staff?

  6. ukliberty,

    Longer answer: I can find people who were pissed off at some of the best places I worked at. They were lazy tossers, and, of course the likes of Unite are going to round them up, and those tossers in parliament are going to give the likes of Unite a hearing, even though they have almost no members there.

    I bet that six strikes policy works just fine. You can have a cockup a month. Most people easily manage that. Lazy, useless tossers don’t.

  7. And what’s wrong with that?

    there is no obligation to give the worker any more hours than the minimum in the contract, but ‘the worker must remain available to accept “any suitable assignments” or risk being dismissed for gross misconduct’, he is not free to seek other paid employment while he has no offer of work from Transline

    there is no guarantee of hours, which makes it difficult to budget – makes life worse for low paid (or no pay) workers

    not paying workers while they are waiting in line to be searched at end of shift, so they were paid less than national minimum wage (situation changed since by Mike Ashley, tbf, although it’s not clear whether payments have been made retrospectively)

    ‘The fees received by Transline [for the debit cards] seem disproportionate to the services offered.’

    possible unlawful deduction in terms of ‘the fee for “insurance services”, which is deducted from the wages of workers employed by The Best Connection’

    wages being ‘deducted 15 minutes’ pay for clocking in just one minute late on arrival or on return from a break’ (situation changed since, tbf)

  8. “Last time I wrote for the Guardian was a few years ago. They’re offered me no work at all since then.”

    You probably did that deliberately to provoke a “fit right in” cheapshot. Yup, I’m cheap.

  9. “wages being ‘deducted 15 minutes’ pay for clocking in just one minute late on arrival or on return from a break’ (situation changed since, tbf)”

    Quite normal when I was a lad working shitty summer jobs. They did it because many workers would take the piss out of every opportunity for free-loading available. Human nature, and all that.

    And doesn’t the real “ukliberty” begin sentences with capitals and mention LVT every third post?

  10. @PJF, LVT doesn’t occur to me as a solution here, although LVT+basic income is the magic wand that will solve all our problems – perhaps even cure cancer.

  11. You don’t understand. To the likes of ukliberty, TW is a neoliberal bastard who deserves to be on the breadline and treated like shit by his employers. Whereas the workers at SportsDirect are the salt of the earth hard working family types, who are being exploited by evil capitalists.

    Unless they voted Leave of course, in which case they are racist scum who are so stupid they’d even listen to Nigel Farage.

  12. “You don’t understand. To the likes of ukliberty, […] the workers at SportsDirect are the salt of the earth hard working family types, who are being exploited by evil capitalists.”

    Quite a lot of them I’m sure *are* salt of the earth hard working family types. That’s not the problem with ukliberty’s thinking. The issue is not understanding the economic reasons why some hard working family types wind up being poor, or why you can’t fix it by government fiat.

  13. Jim,

    TW is a neoliberal bastard who deserves to be on the breadline and treated like shit by his employers.

    Please don’t lie about my opinions.

  14. “…although LVT+basic income is the magic wand that will solve all our problems…”

    Let’s see: the politicians (those elected buying the votes of the lazy scuzzers motivated to do fuck all) get to tweak the settings on the automatic eminent domain machine that selects the best properties for the hyper-rich.

    Yes, “magic” indeed. One where the rabbits are pulled out of your arse.

  15. Don’t think freelancing is a great comparison because of the exclusivity element in particular.

    “You must not work for anyone else” + “We may or may not give you any work” is a pretty crappy combination.

  16. ““You must not work for anyone else” + “We may or may not give you any work” is a pretty crappy combination.”

    It’s a contractual exchange – you agree to work for them when they have work, in exchange for them giving you (rather than anyone else) the work when it comes in. They get flexible labour reliably whenever they need it. You get to stand at the front of the queue when it turns up.

    As with all contractual arrangements, if it doesn’t suit your circumstances, don’t sign up for it. It suits some people – those who have enough savings or other income to survive on, but are available for work for a bit of extra money.

    The root problem ukliberty is referring to is that a lot of people don’t have the skills to generate enough wealth to pay them a decent wage. If someone can only do stuff worth £6/hour, it’s not economically feasible to employ them and pay them more. The business loses more than it gains. And you’re not allowed to pay them £6/hour because the well-meaning-but-economically-ignorant socialists got the government to ban that, figuring that if you simply ban people being paid less than they want that the money to pay them will just magically appear, and they’ll all be richer.

    Poor people with productivity below the minimum wage (rightly) want to stay employed, but are no longer allowed to get full-time jobs at that rate. So they seek out alternative contracts that enable them to be legally paid less than the minimum wage. The other alternatives are jobs where the working conditions are worse – longer hours, poorer facilities, fewer perks, so that employers can reduce costs to the point where it’s affordable to employ them. The workers themselves would often prefer better conditions or more reliable wages to higher wages, but the do-gooders decided they knew better then them what was good for them, and hence the current situation.

    I have every sympathy for the people stuck in that situation, and it’s genuinely really bad that they’re being forced into contracts that don’t suit their circumstances because of the employee-rights-minimum-wage legislation. I’d not say this situation is “OK – just capitalism working as it should” by any stretch of the imagination. But it’s not the fault of “greedy employers”.

    It’s a conspiracy of the poor employees with often sympathetic employers to partially circumvent the damage done to them by socialism. Obviously, the socialists are not happy to be so thwarted, and so are now agitating to cut off this newly devised escape from the consequences of their policies, but it’s a never-ending war.

  17. Employers don’t sack their best employees – or at least they sack them last when they are having to sack everyone. If you are a good employee you will be forgiven some breaking of the rules. But it’s so shittingly difficult to sack lazy tossers that contracts need to be drawn up so that employers can have a legally sound reason for racking someone – simply because sacking someone for being crap at their job and lazy with it runs the risk of some whiny unfair dismissal claim.

  18. Employers don’t sack their best employees – you’d think not, but their HR people do this all the time. They operate LIFO irrespective of how ‘good’ the people are; or they apply a wage freeze, so that all the good people move on and leave behind the dross who can’t (or can’t be bothered to) get another job.

    All to avoid the unfair dismissal problem you correctly identify.

  19. The Meissen Bison

    ukliberty

    Jim,
    TW is a neoliberal bastard who deserves to be on the breadline and treated like shit by his employers.

    Please don’t lie about my opinions.

    Well, it’s all very well being earnest and a tiny bit priggish and self-important from time to time but I don’t suppose it ever occurs to you that you might take yourself a little too seriously?

  20. I worked for Hermes through an agency as a lorry driver. They would call me and ask me whether I was free. No obligations on my part to accept, no contract.

    Seemed very advantageous to both parties.

  21. I don’t suppose it ever occurs to you that you might take yourself a little too seriously?

    Oh, only eleventy bajillion times a week. You?

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