‘ENOUGH is enough, it’s time to follow the successful policies of other countries and ban these contracts once and for all,’ GMB’s Tim Roache said yesterday responding to new figures showing a massive rise in zero hours contracts, pushing almost a million people onto them.
New Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show 974,000 people were employed on zero hours contracts at the end of 2019.
This represents an increase of 130,000 (or 15.4 per cent) compared to the same point last year. The latest total is the highest figure on record.
Young workers are much more likely to be employed on zero hours contracts – 9.1 per cent of those aged under 25, compared to three per cent of all other workers.
Roache continued: ‘On a zero hours contract you don’t know what wage you’ll have coming in from week to week, you don’t know if you can pay the bills or buy the shopping and you cant say boo to a goose or you won’t get any hours the week after. People shouldn’t have to live like this – zero hours means zero security and zero rights.’
Meanwhile, Amazon warehouses have been hit by more than 600 serious injuries in the last three years, a fresh GMB investigation has revealed.
The figures – some of which were broadcast on the BBC’s Panorama programme last Monday night – are the result of Freedom of Information Act requests submitted by the GMB to local authorities across the UK.
They show that between 2016/17 and 2018/19 a total of 622 reports were made from Amazon warehouses to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – with the number rising each year.
- A worker at a London warehouse was knocked unconscious and stopped breathing following a head injury. The accident investigation report found that ‘the main root cause of this incident was failing to provide a safe working environment’;
- In Manchester, an Amazon Worker fractured their hand after their fingers got caught between the station sliding gate and the surrounding gate support;
- At a London warehouse, a forklift driver collided with a column, causing a mezzanine floor to become unsafe in a serious ‘near miss’ incident;
- A worker in Manchester suffered head injuries after a number of boxes fell on them. They were later diagnosed with an inter vertebral disc prolapse;
- A worker at Bardon Hill, in Leicestershire, suffered internal bruising after being knocked down and wedged under a heavy goods vehicle.
Workplace injuries reported to the HSE must be severe enough to prevent someone from performing their usual work duties for at least seven days, or be from a specified list of injuries that includes fractures, amputation, crushing, scalping and burning.
Mick Rix, GMB National Officer, said: ‘Hundreds of stricken Amazon workers are needing urgent medical attention. Conditions are hellish.
‘We’ve tried over and over again to get Amazon to talk to us to try and improve safety for workers. But enough is enough – it’s now time for a full parliamentary inquiry.’