Zero hours contracts prevalence, the class struggle and the gales of creative destruction

number of zero hours contracts in UK

Source: Use of zero hours contracts rises to record levels | City A.M.

The number of workers on zero hours contracts has certainly exploded in the UK, going from about 100,000 to 700,000 in about five years. The UK data also suggests that most of these contracts will be in the accommodation and food services sector.

workers on zero hour contracts in UK by sector

Source: Use of zero hours contracts rises to record levels | City A.M.

Zero hours contracts is creative destruction at work in the labour market, sweeping away obsolete working time arrangements, mostly in the retail services sector.

Innovation is the market introduction of a technical or organisational novelty, not just its invention.  - Joseph Schumpeter

Zero hours contracts is creative destruction at work in the labour market, sweeping away obsolete working arrangements mostly in the retail services sector.

New Zealand data is hard to come by on zero hours contracts. Data on working hours arrangements is in the Survey of Working Life which is conducted every couple of years. This survey doesn’t give any data directly on the prevalence of zero hours contracts, but it does tell you how many people are temporary employees and among these, who is a casual and seasonal employee and whether they have regular hours.

image

Source: Survey of Working Life  December  Quarter 2012, Statistics New Zealand.

The first thing can be said about the prevalence of zero hours contracts in New Zealand is two years ago the number of workers both male and female who were casual, fixed term and temp agency workers was relatively small. Less than one in 20 male workers was a casual worker; 3% of male workers was on a fixed term or temp agency worker. For women, 6% were casual workers and 4.9% were either fixed term or temp agency workers.

image

Source: Survey of Working Life  December  Quarter 2012, Statistics New Zealand.

Temporary employment is most common In the agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors, which is no surprise because of the prevalence seasonal workers in that sector.The retail trade accommodation and food sectors is not the next cab off the rank for temporary employment. Temporary employment is rather common in the education and professional science sectors.

image

Source: Survey of Working Life  December  Quarter 2012, Statistics New Zealand.

In the retail trade commendation and food services worker, 90% of all employees are still permanent. There are about 32,000 workers in the retail trade, accommodation and food services sectors.

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Source: Survey of Working Life  December  Quarter 2012, Statistics New Zealand.

Among all casual employees across all sectors, 50% work standard hours and about 10% have no usual working time. That is, out of the 92,000 casual employees in New Zealand, about 9000 of them have no usual working times, which is the equivalent of a zero hours contract. No data was published by Statistics New Zealand on fixed term and temp  agency workers because the sample sizes were too small so the data was suppressed confidentiality reasons.

image

Source: Survey of Working Life  December  Quarter 2012, Statistics New Zealand.

For casual, fixed term and temp agency employees, it is commonplace for them to change their hours from week to week to suit the needs of their employees. The equivalent of zero hours contracts Is commonplace among employees who do not have permanent employment status. It goes with the territory. Those who want fixed hours seek permanent employment.

For zero hours employment to become common, this form of contract in over working time arrangements will have to be come more common among permanent employees. If that is so, such a trend will make the notion of a permanent employee somewhat vague considering these employees, although permanent, are not guaranteed regular hours.

image

Source: Survey of Working Life  December  Quarter 2012, Statistics New Zealand.

They are a happy lot are temporary employees. Pretty much enjoy their jobs as much as permanent employees do when it comes to their job and, by implication, that perennial left-wing bugbear, the inherent inequality of bargaining power between  the bosses and the workers and the violence inherent in the capitalist system. All is not well for the class war.

image

Source: Survey of Working Life  December  Quarter 2012, Statistics New Zealand.

What is worse for the future of the class struggle is that these temporary employees are rather happy lot when it comes to work life balance. Just as happy as permanent employees. Indeed, temporary or permanent employment status has no effect on job satisfaction and work life balance.

image

Source: Survey of Working Life  December  Quarter 2012, Statistics New Zealand.

Rise up ye workers, rise up for you have nothing to lose but your zero hours contracts may have to be put on hold as the next battle cry of the class war in New Zealand. Indeed, a lot of consciousness-raising will be in store for our friends on the Left because the working class seem a rather happy lot in their jobs, slightly less grumpy than the middle class, and almost as happy as the ruling class.

capitalism rocks

Kicking in the rotted door of capitalism to bring on the permanent revolution has never been easy. Zero hours contracts just does not seem to be the new straw that will break the capitalists’ back any time soon. Workers seem to be rather happy with them or their equivalent that has been around for a long time in the labour market.

Critics overplay their hand if they suggest that somehow workers a very much disadvantaged and employers are holding all the cards. Job turnover and recruitment problems are a serious cost to a business. Workers will not sign contracts, such as zero hours contracts or casual work contracts if they are not to their advantage.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Jim Rose
    Jul 12, 2015 @ 11:47:28

    Reblogged this on Utopia – you are standing in it! and commented:

    The Minister for Workplace Relations announced restrictions on zero hours contracts this morning on New Zealand television. Practices which will be prohibited:

    • Employers not committing any hours of work, but expecting employees to be available when required

    • Employers cancelling a shift without providing reasonable notice or compensation to the employee

    • Employers putting unreasonable restrictions on secondary employment of employees

    • Employers making unreasonable deductions from employees’ wages.

    Like

    Reply

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