The Guardian compares zero hour contract problems to “the collapse of the soviet union”

Guy Standing, professor of economic security at The University of Bath, uses his article in The Guardian to discuss some of the issues surrounding zero hour contracts in comparison to previous historical issues in economic security.

Like many others, Guy views Zero Hour Contracts in a very negative light stating:

“The labour market is in a mess”

He says of the rules and regulations that mean, for workers, they have no right to training and the employer is able to use them as a free commodity that:

“It is eerily reminiscent of what happened after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when millions of workers were kept on enterprise employment rolls without pay or benefits.”

This sounds like an extreme comparison to a situation that left millions in deprivation and starving however, as Guy explains:

“Zero-hours contracts are not in the same league. But they are part of the insecure underbelly of our society”

This then leads me on to the point that our society really is under immense pressure to change for the better, zero hour contracts seem to have been a failed attempt at this.


“I knew about my job at newmoors just half an hour before my first shift”

Luke Parr a student at Birmingham City University found his zero hour contract favorable in relation to his course. He remained to work for three and a half months on the contract last summer and is hoping to find another job offering this year.


“it was really good working a zero hour contract whilst being a student because there was no interviews or anything to get the job you just signed a few pieces of paper and then you were assigned a job and there was in my case regular money coming through each week.”


The hours offered by his agency, proactive personell, were tough as Luke found himself working the ‘twilight shift’ which was 3:45pm-1am from Monday-Thursday. This particular agency offers work for temporary to permanent staff members yet the laws and regulations of employee contracts are completely different.


Since Luke was on a zero hour contract he was given very little notice before his first shift luckily it was summer so the time allowance favored his lack of commitment to his course since it was the summer break. For a student to work on a zero hour contract during the semesters, the lack of notice before a shift would cause a student to decide between a lecture or paid work.

My personal experience from working at Rouge recruitment on a zero hour contract whilst being a student, led me to leaving this particular agency due to the lack of notice before any of my shifts. The agency would ring you from 3 hours to a nights notice before a shift and expect you to catch an early train that could last 4 hours to get to a job where you might only be there for 2 or 3 hours causing you to travel a total of 8 hours for a short shift. This way I would have lost money whilst missing a lecture which would essentially sacrifice my grades and possibly even my place on the course.

Luke also mentioned in the interview that once you call off sick their is a fear of losing your job as agencies such as proactive personell, may choose another of their numerous ‘zero hour’ employees to cover your shift and potentially dismiss you altogether due to your lack of attendance.


“I just find that with these zero hour contracts, you can be exploited as a worker and not as a human, you loose your identity’