Public wants zero hours contracts banned

Public wants zero hours contracts banned

16 September 2016

New poll finds Brexit Britain split on economy, jobs and the future

More than six in 10 UK people (64 per cent) want zero hours contracts banned a new poll reveals today (Friday 16 September) as it is also confirmed that most people (53 per cent) also feel that there are too few decent jobs in their area.

The call for a ban is backed by voters from both the Conservative (55 per cent) and Labour (71 per cent) parties.

And while better off voters feel that the economy is recovering, according to Unite the union, which commissioned ComRes to conduct the poll, working class voters do not feel either an improvement in their circumstances or hopeful for the future. Among those aged 18-24 years of age, 55 per cent state that they are not confident about the future.

The union says much more needs to be done to stop working class voters feeling left out and left behind in today’s UK as it called for a ‘fight back against the scourge of insecure working’ by the new prime minister, Theresa May.

It urged that a start be made by the government banning zero hours contracts which have left almost one million workers with no certainty in their earnings or their working life.

Unite also believes that the 41 per cent of those polled supporting a universal basic income, in contrast to the 33 per cent who do not, reveals that the public is looking for ways to address the insecurity associated with modern working life. Unite led calls at this week’s Trades Union Congress for a wholesale reform in social security to reflect the serious social problems resulting when work does not pay.

Commenting Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “These findings reveal a disunited Britain and the scale of the task facing the prime minister who has vowed to govern not just for ‘a privileged few’. 

“The truth is working class voters feel left out and left behind in Conservative Britain. The question now is does the prime minister’s party have the policies needed to restore confidence to millions who feel betrayed by years of cuts and who now live in perpetual insecurity?

“Theresa May has already taken a very wrong turn down this road by making the return of elite education her political priority, when actually what is needed to heal the growing equality divide is a decent income, a job and a home for families.

“Fighting back against the scourge of insecure employment has to be top of her ‘to-do’ list.  

“When it comes to measures to address economic and employment uncertainty there is widespread agreement on the one course of action that the government should take. It should bring forward plans now to make work pay in this country again, starting with banning zero hours contracts. If it can be done for the workers of New Zealand, it should be done for the workers of the UK.”

The union’s call comes as the Office of National Statistics recently revealed a 20 per cent jump in the use of these contracts in the last year alone.

Summary of the poll findings:

  • The majority of those polled (53 per cent) do not feel that there are enough secure, well-paid secure jobs in their area. Among those aged between 45-54 years of age, 62 per cent state that there are not enough decent jobs in their area. Four in ten of those polled (40 per cent) do say that they feel more optimistic for the future, compared to the 24 per cent who are pessimistic.  
  • Between the generations, views differ with six in ten (60 per cent) of over 65 year olds polled stating that they are confident about the state of the economy, while 55 per cent of those aged 18-24 years are not.  
  • Better off adults in social grades AB (35 per cent) and C1 (29 per cent) are more likely than those in grades C2 (22 per cent) and DE (20 per cent) to say that they are better off compared to this time last year. 
  • The difference in outlook becomes more graphic between supporters of political parties. Nearly seven in ten (68 per cent) of Conservative voters feel confident about the economy, but only 28 per cent of Labour voters share that view. For Liberal Democrat and Ukip voters, the results were 39 per cent and 57 per cent respectively.
  • Among the population as a whole, only just over one quarter (27 per cent) feel better off than they were this time last year, but 25 per cent state that they feel worse off.  
  • Only days after the Office for National Statistics revealed that the use of zero hours contracts (ZHCs) had leapt by 20 per cent in the past twelve months, 64 per cent of those polled want the government to ban these contracts, a move that attracts cross-party political support with 55 per cent of Conservative voters rising to 71 per cent of Labour supporters backing such action.
  • As an indication that the public understands that work is failing to pay in the UK, significantly, 41 per cent support replacing the existing welfare system with universal basic income compared to 33 per cent who oppose it.


Methodology Note: ComRes interviewed 2,004 GB adults online between 9 and 11 September 2016. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults. Data were also weighted by past vote recall. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

For further information please call Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665 869 or Pauline Doyle on 07976 832 861.

Notes to editors:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.