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Friday, 02 August 2013 00:00

Zero-hours are a blight

Zero-hours contracts are a blight on modern working life. They leave workers subject to their bosses' every whim and at risk of exploitation and abuse.

They mean fear, uncertainty and a miserable hand-to-mouth existence for already low-paid and vulnerable employees.

The official tally of 250,000 zero-hours workers is simply not credible. Not when the contracts are so popular in retail and the other service industries that increasingly make up Britain's low-wage, race-to-the-bottom economy.

The relentless rise of zero-hours contracts reveals how bosses have been given free rein by a succession of business-friendly governments, both Labour and Tory - and how workers have suffered from relentless attacks on their trade union rights.

Zero-hours contracts have no place in our workplaces and should be outlawed. Let's see the rest of the trade union movement get behind the voices calling for a ban and make Labour realise what an easy vote-winner this would be.

Inverted genius

Flogging off our Lloyds shares just as the bank's becoming profitable? It's the sort of inverted genius only George Osborne is capable of.

Only a complete incompetent or a demented free-marketeer would pass up the chance to recoup a chunk of the cash we spent on bailing out the bank.

It remains unclear whether Osborne is just one of those or both.

Either way his decision makes no sense. Not to the taxpayer or the Exchequer, anyway, and you might imagine it was the Chancellor's job to put those interests first.

But no. Once again Osborne has thought only of his free-market dogma - and the speculators and profiteers who just so happen to be big Tory donors.

We'll all pay the price for years. But we've come to expect nothing else from a man who takes his orders direct from the City of London.

CWU limbering up

The whole labour movement can take inspiration from the CWU's fighting spirit in the war for Royal Mail.

A unanimous vote to ballot for national action shows that the union isn't going to budge an inch as it aims to save a superb and much-loved public service.

This dispute over pay, jobs and pensions is one battle in the broader war to stop Royal Mail being carved up and the profitable bits flogged off to the private sector.

It's a war the CWU simply has to win - for the sake of the 96 per cent of postal workers who oppose privatisation, the two-thirds of the public who support them, and for the sake of the vital public service itself.

Now that Labour has finally done a U-turn and come out in favour of keeping Royal Mail public, the CWU's job is clear.

To resist the Con-Dems at every turn - to drag out the sell-off so long that it can't be completed before the coalition is booted out of power at the next election.

They'll have the public's support every step of the way.

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