Zero hours – criticisms neutralised

Criticisms of a long standing contractual arrangement (ie zero hours) were raised some months ago. The Unite Union decided to challenge them, allegations of abuse surfaced and were probably exaggerated, politicians jumped on the bandwagon (notably the Business Secretary, Vince Cable,  who should have known better) and much hot air was generated.

Now research by the CIPD shows that employees on zero hours contracts are just as happy (60% say they are) as those on normal contracts (where 59% say so). So the effect of zero hours on worker satisfaction is neutral and criticisms should be effectively neutralised too.

Indeed when it comes to work-life  balance zero-hours employees are actually happier than others! There the ratio is 65% to 58%.

What can we learn?

I’ve worked in, or on the fringes of, industrial relations for over 40 years and I do have high respect for Trade Unions. Their ability to be close to employees in large organisations (where individuals’ access to the owners is usually non-existent), and their skill  in articulating employees’ views and concerns is invaluable. They can also offer substantial protection for those of whom employers and managers make otherwise take advantage.

But we need to be wary of the reality that a few Trade Union opinion formers can soon lead the pack. Such leaders do not always reflect the true views of those whom they represent. We should always listen to Trade Union representatives. But we must also do our own research. Vince Cable please note!

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