Revealed - "slave labour" at Cornwall Council with hundreds on zero hours contracts
Cornwall Council is using "slave labour" with more than 300 people on controversial zero hours contracts, it has been revealed.
A further 150 people with schools in Cornwall and the council’s engineering company Cormac are also on zero hours contracts.
The council admitted the contracts do “not provide the same financial stability and security as employment contracts” and has promised to review the situation.
Under zero hours contracts employees only work as and when they are needed by bosses, often at short notice, and are only paid for the hours they work.
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The council was forced to reveal the number of zero hours contracts after a Freedom of Information request from the West Briton.
Stuart Roden, South West organiser for Unison union, said: "Zero hours are effectively slave labour and the worst kind of exploitation for those forced into this kind of employment as they, demand staff to be totally subservient and to be available 24-7 but without any guarantee of income.
"It means that employees cannot obtain normal credit arrangements or mortgages and property rental become problematic as they have no proof of regular income."
Jeremy Rowe, the Liberal Democrat deputy leader of Cornwall Council, said: “Cornwall Council has approximately 300 members of staff on zero hours contracts. These staff are employed mainly within three areas – registration services, adult education and the music service - where they enable the council to respond to fluctuating demand for services and avoids relying on agency workers.
“While some workers appreciate the flexibility provided by a zero hours contract, we recognise that the fluctuating nature of the contracts does not provide the same financial stability and security as employment contracts with defined working hours.”
The council said there were 134 workers in local authority maintained schools and 20 Cormac workers on zero hours contracts.
Mr Rowe said the situation had been inherited from the previous administration and was being reviewed.