Down with all zero-hours contracts!


‘JOBSEEKERS’ will lose their benefits, or their Universal Credit when it is introduced, if they turn down zero-hours contracts, the government has said.

This new regime is now to go ahead, despite assurances from ministers in parliament that this would not be the case. This change is taking place because the only way that British capitalism can survive is through becoming the world centre for slave labour.

The plan is to force the unemployed to work for low wages, in 19th century conditions, where they are at the beck and call of the employer and wide open to victimisation and attempts to humiliate them into accepting super-exploitation as their way of life, without the protection of trade union negotiated contracts or trade unions.

This is an attempt to return workers, particularly young workers, to the days when workers assembled early in the mornings, outside docks and factories in ‘pens’. There they awaited the arrival of the bosses’ men to pick out who would be able to work for an hour, or a number of hours that day.

Those that were not picked would have to wait until they were called! This was the day of the ‘blue-eyed boy’ who would be picked to work if he or she was known to be submissive and open to intimidation, and had all the fight knocked out of them. Workers who resisted were taught a lesson by repeated refusals to let them work.

The trade unions particularly, the general trade unions, rose up in the last decade of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century in revolt against this form of wage slavery, and established workers’ rights that parliament was forced to legislate, and then in 1906 established the Labour Party.

Now the bosses and their coalition are seeking to turn the clock back by more than a hundred years with zero-hours contracts!

If the unemployed refuse to become part of this 19th century scenario, they are to be sanctioned, have all of their benefits stopped – and in the era of the single benefit, their Universal Credit – so that they lose their accommodation and are cast out onto the streets.

This is the regime that the employers and their government want to bring back. They want a slave labour Britain, without contracts of employment that guarantee a 40-hour working week, holidays and permanent work. Such a regime will also be free of trade unions. It would be a return to the ‘good old days’ with the working class under the iron heel of capital.

This policy is also dedicated to trying to create a rotting mass at the base of society, a lumpenproletariat open to becoming a bribed tool of reaction, available to be hired for strike-breaking and other anti-working class actions.

It is a disgrace that the Labour Party and the trade union leaders have allowed a situation to develop where 1.4 million people are already on these zero-hours contracts.

State officials have pointed out that workers could have more than one contract at a time if they wished, making themselves available for work any time over a 24-hour day!

Workers and youth will not bend the knee and accept a regime of zero-hours contracts, while the trade unions must declare all-out war on them.

Workers and youth reason that if capitalism is capable of offering them only a return to the conditions of 19th century capitalism, then it has outlived itself and must be overthrown and replaced by socialism.

Further, since the Labour Party and the reformist trade union leaders have worked as loyal servants of capitalism, and are unwilling to put an end to capitalism, they must be dumped and replaced by the revolutionary leadership of the WRP.

The trade unions need new leaders who will call an indefinite general strike to bring down the coalition and bring in a workers government and socialism.

All workers and youth who are fighting for their future must attend the News Line-All Trades Unions Alliance conference on May 10th at the Conway Hall London, starting at 12 midday (see ad page 1) to organise to carry out this perspective of building the WRP leadership inside the trade unions to lead the British socialist revolution.