In the wake of widespread media coverage in early August of the mounting use of ‘zero hour’ contracts, not least by local authorities, the branch has been turning the spotlight on the situation in Camden through letters to the local press and a 13 August protest outside the Town Hall, covered in the latest issue of Camden Eye. Unfortunately, but predictably, despite Camden’s Labour group now launching an online petition opposing ‘zero hour’ contracts, the Cabinet is due to agree to pay still more millions to homecare providers that will be using such contracts.
Partly as a response to the branch’s efforts Green Party councilllor, Maya de Souza, is posing a number of probing questions about ‘labour standards’ set by the Council both for those directly employed by Camden and for those working on outsourced contracts in areas such as homecare and leisure provision. Some of the questions also appear on the agenda for the 9 September meeting of the full Council. The full set of queries sent to Council Leader Sarah Hayward and Chief Executive Mike Cooke appears below:
“I understand that the Council is making use of Zero Hour contracts (which give workers no express entitlement to being provided with work or at least not a specific number of hours over a defined period) in outsourced services and even in directly provided services like music teaching and caretaking. Can the Leader of the Council please let us know:
1. How many workers under contract with Camden Council work on Zero Hours contracts, broken down by the service provided eg caretaking, music teachers.
2. List the contracts with external providers in respect of which Zero Hours contracts are made use of, including those contracts about to be entered into or about to be tendered, and the approximate number of workers affected.
3. What steps Camden will be taking in the procurement process, for example evaluation of bids or contract conditions, to outlaw or reduce the use of Zero Hours contracts in any external contracts to be entered into.
4. What steps, and in what timescale, Camden will be taking to end the use of Zero Hours contracts within its own workforce, and to reduce its use in relation to existing external contracts.
5. How will Camden be monitoring these external contracts? Can it provide information as to the turnover and recruitment rates in these firms? What indicators if any relating to good labour standards and practices will it be using?”