New surveys have revealed that the number of workers on “zero hours” contracts (that is, who work as and when their employer tells them to, rather than for a set number of hours each week) could be as high as one million.
The Office of National Statistics puts the figure at 250,000 for 2012 — an increase of 50,000 from the previous year’s statistics — but the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development says that its survey of 1,000, if projected across the whole country, suggests a figure four times that amount.
McDonalds, which first introduced zero-hours contracts in 1974, says that 90% of its UK staff have no fixed hours.
Unite has launched a campaign against zero-hours contracts. Other unions, like the University and College Union (UCU), have existing campaigns against the practice in their particular industries.