Time to end zero hour contracts

As a long-time Labour Party activist and councillor there are so many policies and issues that I care passionately about. But in the short process to select a Labour parliamentary candidate I realised I couldn’t do all of them justice so needed to focus on some of the policies that I feel are most important or where I can make the biggest difference.

I’ve already done this for the bedroom tax where I took a motion to our last Elmet and Rothwell Labour Party constituency meeting. I called on Liam Bryne, the shadow secretary of state for work and pensions, to make a clear commitment in Labour’s general election manifesto to repeal the bedroom tax.

Another policy that I’ve focused on is:

2) The need to end zero hour contracts. I will work with Leeds City Council, the Local Enterprise Partnership, Chamber of Commerce, businesses, voluntary sector and trade unions to ensure we have real local jobs and not just zero hour contracts.

Since I included this commitment in my list of policies zero hour contracts have been in the news a lot. First with the revelation that all of retailer Sports Direct’s part-time staff are on zero-hour contracts. That’s 90% of its entire workforce. And then the revelation that there are staff at Buckingham Palace on zero hour contracts.

Zero hour contracts are just like a return to the dark age of the pre-WWII depression when workers would have to turn up every morning to stand in a queue in the hope they might be chosen for work. Although at the Tories are seemingly relaxed about food banks to feed families on the breadline, they are probably even more relaxed at this return to this depression era oppression of working people.

Too often it is young people and women that are subject to zero hour contracts. But many young people and women have financial commitments that mean they need the same income security that people in jobs with real employment contracts enjoy.

A local mum told me that her son had put a lot of preparation in to a job interview, beat all the other candidates, was delighted to start work, then came off job seekers allowance and off the unemployment figures.  But her son is on a zero hour contract and he has already had a week where he had no work (and no pay).  He is in fact worse off than he was when he was unemployed and she feels this is grossly unfair.  The only flexibility I can see is to the employer and not to the employee. Another local person I spoke to who entered into a zero hour contract wasn’t offered work for weeks on end and then called up on a Friday night to work on Saturday (the next day).

However, I do recognise that some workers get the chance to choose a more flexible type of zero hour contract as it offers them more flexibility and some contracts will be better than others and indeed some employers will be better than others. The type of contract that also gives flexibility to the worker can be good while they balance other commitments such as study or childcare. But I believe it should be a choice and zero hour contracts should only be used when there are real benefits to both employee and employer. And it should be a real choice, with it made compulsory for employers to always offer the opportunity to sign a real employment contract that provides some job and income security.

Even before I am elected as an MP I will campaign to end zero hour contracts and as a candidate I will lobby to have a commitment about zero hour contracts included in the Labour general election manifesto.

Elmet and Rothwell nomination meetings

On Tuesday, July 16 (tomorrow evening) all five branches of Elmet and Rothwell constituency Labour Party will hold their nomination meetings where they will be able to nominate candidates to be considered by all members in the final vote.

I’m asking you to attend the meeting in Garforth and to please nominate me as Labour’s prospective Parliamentary candidate. This is very important as your nomination at your branch will ensure this important decision is made by local Labour Party members instead of it being imposed upon us from outside.

I believe – and many local members and councillors – believe that only a hardworking, local candidate with a real record of success can beat Alec Shelbrooke. Labour members from every ward have pledged their support, because they know I can beat the Tories.

I don’t just talk about challenging Alec Shelbrooke. I do it. Attacking him in the media, in leaflets and on the internet to challenge his government’s HS2 failures, the Bedroom Tax and privatising our NHS. Just in the last few days I’ve defended our historic link with trade unions where the subscriptions of millions of workers help fund the Labour Party, while attacking his Tories for preferring to take money from betting firms and bankers.

That’s why he in his last newsletter he attacked me for challenging his perverse ‘Benefit Card’ to stigmatise people on benefit.

Many in our party talk about using the internet to campaign, but I do it and have done for the last eight years – on my website, Facebook and Twitter.

I’m a working class woman who grew up in a council house and started work in a factory. I’ve worked in the public, private, voluntary sectors and am now self-employed. I’m exactly the sort of candidate that Labour needs as voters are fed up with politics as usual where MPs are remote from their constituencies and have spent their lives working in politics in London. I used to be a local councillor for Garforth, Swillington and Methley and I’ve lived in our constituency for 22 years.

I beat a Liberal Democrat to win my council seat in Rothwell and I will beat a Tory in Elmet and Rothwell to win a seat in Parliament for Labour.  

I love Elmet and Rothwell and want to serve its people. I already live here with my family. My husband works here and our daughter is at school here. Nominate me if you think there should be more real people in Parliament.

If you need to know anything about the nomination meeting then please get in touch.

Andy Burnham for Labour leader

Here’s why I’ve decided to back Andy Burnham in the Labour leadership contest, I want my daughter to grow up in a country that is fair and just, governed by a Labour Party that is connected to the people. Andy is a choice for the future, I believe that Andy can rebuild Labour for a future generation.

When you look around at who’s running the country now (the elite) it even makes me feel marginalised, and I’ve been a politico for many years as a Labour Party councillor and activist. I get the feeling that Andy understands what it’s like for working class people, a northerner, his dad was a telephone engineer and his mum was a receptionist – I can identify with that and I think a lot of people will.  One tweet this morning said Andy is “Evertonian not Etonian” and I think this sums it up.

As well as having a huge political talent and a natural with people, Andy has a lot to offer and a different persona to the others standing for the leadership.

We have a lot to thank Tony Blair for (winning three terms of a Labour government for a start), and Gordon Brown for leading the nation out of the financial crisis. For the future, re-connecting with the people is going to be the key.

We need to offer the people real choice, Andy is a complete contrast to David Cameron and Nick Clegg. Andy will bring a breath of fresh air to the campaign, the party as leader, and I am convinced -to the country as our future prime minister.

The Labour party is the people’s party and I believe that Andy is one who can take it back to its roots.

You can be part of of it at Andy’s website www.andy4leader.com

Having said that, I think it’s essential that we have a good debate, the party needs it for renewal, I was pleased to hear that Diane Abbot is standing this morning. I would like to see as many candidates as possible go forward for consideration by the party and to promote debate on all the issues. Candidates only need 33 MPs to get on the ballot paper, candidates shouldn’t be greedy and rob the party of this opportunity for debate by taking so many nominations it prevents everyone standing. This is an exciting time for the party and the opportunity is there for the taking.