3,000 ‘zero hour’ workers at Bury Council
BURY Council employs more than 3,000 workers on controversial zero-hour contracts.
There are 3,473 people employed on the contracts, mostly as supply staff, it was revealed at the full council meeting.
The zero-hour contracts have been criticised widely in recent months because they provide no set hours of work or income for employees, who often hold low-paid positions.
But Councillor Trevor Holt, deputy cabinet member for finance and corporate affairs, said: “Quite rightly the media has highlighted where employers have misused zero-hours contracts to provide employees with less favourable terms and limited employment protection. This is not the case in the council where the rates of pay for the job, entitlement to holiday pay and employment protection rights are all maintained.
“All zero-hours contracts pay an hourly rate of pay that is the equivalent of substantive postholders.” Cllr Holt revealed the figures after a question at the meeting from Councillor Tim Pickstone, leader of Bury’s Liberal Democrats.
He said the contracts were set up to provide supply staff and casual workers when needed, for example to meet seasonal demand and shortfalls in staffing numbers. Almost two-thirds of the workers — 2,163 people — are employed as supply staff for schools, such as teachers, exam vigilators, mid-day supervisors, creche workers and admin staff.
Zero-hours contracts are also used for roles including residential and home care workers, cleaners, caretakers, refuse collection, grounds maintenance, and waiting and bar staff in civic halls.
Cllr Holt said some people hold more than one zero-hours contract, covering 4,645 individual posts.
They are paid between £5.45 and £19.24 per hour, depending on the position.
Cllr Holt also said that 1,073 people across the council are paid an hourly rate below the “living wage” of £7.45 and that the council was committed to implementing the wage.
His words follow a vow by Liberal Democrats at their party conference to put an end to zero hours contracts which leave employees in the dark.
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