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’m constantly stressed about money, about losing my flat and not being able to support my daughter”

For students to work on a zero contract hour it may face them with the decision between keeping their contract or continuing their course. But for some people the contract means a lot more too them than a little bit of extra cash, Christopher Gorin from Jersey, Channel Islands is a single parents on a zero contract hour.

” Me and my wife divorced ten years ago and ever since then I have been on a zero contract hour. I work in the field of carpentry so whenever a house needs refurbishing, a door needs to be fixed or a wall needs to be painted, I will be rung. Living on such a small Island means that work can be constant at times yet there is never the security of not having any work for a good few months. During these months of no work I suffer a lot of stress and sleepless nights”

“I have a daughter who goes to university and her income for her tuition fees, for her living and general education relies on myself. Of course her mother would also help but I want her to know that I have a full support as well otherwise it takes away my place as a father. Living in a rented flat with another man is my only option for living since I simply cannot afford the mortgage and with my contract I cannot support every bill that is given to me. My flat mate is helpful as he understands my stress so in times of financial drought he is always there to help me out. For myself, the zero hour contract is the only work I can manage to get and believe me I have tried. But I find them unreliable and as a means for exploitation of the working class.  “


The zero hour contracts is at times the only option for a single parents as employment levels around the UK are at a low. Another issue that single parents face is when their child is too young to be educated, if they are called in for work last minute, how can they make sure they have organised a baby sitter? Not having any support from the other parents means that a zero hour contract can be living hell for a single parent and may cause them to loose their job without having anyone to look after their child.