‘Gig economy’ sees zero-hours workers earn a third of average wage

One in ten are now in precarious work, finds TUC report


Three million workers are now in precarious jobs as the rise of the so-called gig economy sees those on zero-hours contracts earn a third of average wages.

A new report by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) finds one in ten workers, or 3.2 million, are now in insecure jobs, with the number denied basic employment rights having doubled in the last decade to 1.5 million.

It comes amid the growth of courier firms like Deliveroo and Uber which consider each rider as an ‘independent contractor’ effectively running a small business, without rights to holiday time or minimum wage.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Insecure work has exploded in the past decade. In far too many cases, the only people who’ve benefited are bad bosses. Sports Direct can’t be the employment model for the 2020s.”

Today’s ‘Living on the Edge’ report found workers on zero-hour contracts – those with no set hours – earn £3.80, or 34 per cent, less per hour than average workers, down from 26 per cent in 2006, while average zero-hours pay has grown just 67p in the last decade.

Self-employed workers now earn 40 per cent less than employees compared to 28 per cent a decage ago, with one in three self-employed households, or 1.2 million families, taking home less than £200 per week.

Casual workers are paid 40 per cent less an hour than average workers, with no improvement in the last ten years.

O’Grady said:

“Gig economy workers face the double hit of poverty wages and weaker employment rights.

Whether they’re waiting tables or driving for Uber, all workers deserve respect, fair pay and basic protections.”

She said the government-backed Taylor Review into modern employment ‘must drag the rules that protect working people into the 21st century’, adding that unions are exposing the ‘worst excesses of the gig economy’ and winning victories:

“Any serious attempt to crack down on precarious jobs has to have trade unionism at its heart.”

Unite recently forced Sports Direct to improve wages and conditions and won an employment tribunal case that found two Uber couriers were employees entitled to basic rights.

A spokesman for the Business Department said:

“We are keen to ensure our employment rules keep up to date to reflect new ways of working, and that’s why the government has asked Matthew Taylor to conduct an independent review into modern working practices.”

Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13 

See: TUC’s O’Grady blasts JD Sports over ‘degrading’ warehouse conditions

See: Robot-loving Spectator hack says ‘abolish’ drivers to curb rail strikes

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