3 Nov 2015

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has said that the report of the expert group on low hours work “confirms what Congress and affiliated unions have been saying for some years on this issue.”

Congress General Secretary Patricia King said: “We have consistently lobbied successive governments to have current legislation amended, in order to provide enhanced protection for workers on low-hour contracts, the majority of whom are low paid, female and whose voice is not often heard.

“The recent strike and ongoing dispute involving Dunnes Stores workers graphically illustrated these issues and some of these workers suffered considerably for the brave stand they took.”

Ms King said that the newly-published report, whilst noting the lack of evidence on zero-hour contracts, “does point very effectively to the large scale and regressive employer behaviour in certain sectors, including retail/distribution, hospitality, and in some education and healthcare grades.

“The manipulation of workers’ hours to satisfy employer needs, with little regard for a balanced flexible approach that offers workers some certainty of income and a guarantee of working hours, is addressed in the recommendations of this report.

“In particular, the introduction of an ‘hours floor’, together with a deterrent in case of misuse of the 72 hours’ notice period are positive recommendations,” she said.

“Congress believes the recommendation to review the practice of ‘if and when’ should be prioritised. This is the worst form of casualisation and can lead to the gross exploitation of workers.

“We now urge the government to immediately make the necessary legislative arrangements to address the very serious issues raised in this report,” Ms King concluded.