A Labour-run council where party leader Ed Miliband gave a speech announcing a crack-down on “zero hours contracts” has nearly 800 workers employed using the arrangement. Scotland on Sunday reports that North Lanarkshire Council has 542 staff on zero hours contracts, with a further 253 employed by council-funded bodies.
Ed Miliband had used a speech at the council saying that the contracts, which allow employers to hire people with no guarantee of actual work, “have spread like an epidemic across our economy”, and pledged to restrict their use.
While saying that the contracts can offer “short-term flexibility for employers and employees”, Miliband added that most employers should not use them because they are “incompatible with building a loyal, skilled and productive workforce.”
The Labour leader of North Lanarkshire Council admitted workers were employed on zero hours contracts to serve food at council receptions and events. He said the arrangement helped them gain experience and earn extra money.
Labour have a strong majority on the council, yet they have not used their influence to stop staff being employed under the controversial arrangement. Last night, the council leader said he would ensure that the number of staff employed on the contracts is reduced.
He told Scotland on Sunday: “You’ve told me something I did not know. I’m told that we had people on zero hour contracts in as much as we use them to give them experience.
“It’s work serving food at council functions, but where we can’t guarantee them hours.
“I don’t disagree with what [Ed Miliband] said, but there are sometimes circumstances where we can’t guarantee 30 or 40 hours a week to people. We give them the opportunity to work elsewhere and they are not tied to the council.
“I’m going to want to know about this and if there are people in arms length bodies on zero hour contracts that will stop. This time next week we’ll know the position.”
John Wilson, a Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Scottish National Party, accused Ed Miliband of hypocrisy and said it damaged his party’s credibility: “It is total hypocrisy on the part of the leader of the Labour Party to launch a campaign for social justice at North Lanarkshire Council, which employs hundreds of workers on zero hour contracts.
“Ed Miliband launching such an initiative at Labour-controlled North Lanarkshire that has failed to end the use of zero hour contracts sends out the wrong message to everyone campaigning for the end of zero hour contracts.”