Milton Keynes Council's '˜gross hypocrisy' over zero hour contracts

MK Council has been accused of gross hypocrisy after it was discovered hundreds of its workers have controversial zero hour contracts.

Wednesday, 28th June 2017, 12:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 12:19 pm

During the past three years of Labour administration, the number of such contracts has soared tenfold to 389, Tories have discovered.

Yet nationally Labour frowns upon zero hour contracts so much that its manifesto for last month’s general election promised to BAN them completely.

“The fact that MK Council has so many people on these contracts is nothing short of grossly hypocritical,” said Tory councillor Peter Geary (pictured).

The zero hour arrangements apply mainly to staff in the adult social care and children’s care sectors. They have generated a wage bill of £800,000 in the past six months.

Mr Geary said:“I questioned the council leader about this and he was extrmely defensive, stating that they were not really zero hours contracts. But the council officers say they are and the law also recognises them as such.”

Zero hour contracts, also known as casual contracts, allow employers to hire staff with no guarantee of work. Staff can be called in at short notice and sick pay is often not included.

Council leader Pete Marland said: “MK Council does not have any “zero hours” contracts.

“We have a number of relief workers who undertake cover work when there is excess demand, or roles like interpreters who are only required occasionally. They are free to undertake other work.

“MK Council pays all colleagues the Real Living Wage.”

When Labour took over MK Council from the Conservatives three years ago there were 38 workers on zero hour contracts. There are now 389.

Critics say zero hour contracts offer no financial stability and security for workers. Some offer fewer employment rights and insufficient hours.