Doncaster council criticised over use of ‘zero-hour’ contracts

Conservative Candidate for Shipley, Philip Davies.  April 11, 2005.
Conservative Candidate for Shipley, Philip Davies. April 11, 2005.

Workers today slammed ‘zero-hours’ contracts after Doncaster Council was accused of being among the worst offenders for using them.

Doncaster-born MP Philip Davies has told parliament the borough is among the worst for using the contracts which do not guarantee employees any work.

The council denies it has zero hours contracts, but admits it has 300 staff on its books to draw on as ‘relief staff’.

But it is understood some of the contractors paid by the council to carry out work use zero hour contracts.

Mr Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, told MPs during a debate that Doncaster was among the worst offenders and added if it was seen as important, the borough’s Labour Mayor and MPs could encourage the council to get rid of them.

The claim has sparked concern amongst residents .

Senga Eden, of Askern, told The Free Press on Facebook of her concerns over zero hours contracts. She said: “I’m on a zero hour contract and it’s rubbish. How do they expect you to live. Something needs to be done.”

Jade Moore, who is also on a zero hours contract, said: “It’s stupid especially when you’re a mother.”

Matt Elder added: “Work till Wednesday, sent home Thursday...they’re a sham, “

But Danielle Donkin, who works as a home carer in the South of Doncaster, said the contracts worked for her.

She said: “I’m lucky in that I have a husband who works full time. It means I can dictate how I work and when and what hours.”

Simon Wiles, director of finance and corporate services, said: “Doncaster Council aims to offer fair working conditions to all of our staff.

“We do not, and never have, used zero hours contracts where an employee is tied to working exclusively for an organisation but has no guaranteed hours.

“What we do have is a pool of relief workers who do a variety of work for us including driving, teaching, conducting traffic censuses and making deliveries. We have on average around 300 individuals who undertake relief work for us each year.

“These casual workers are not restricted to only working for us and are not required to be available when we ask them. Relief work gives people opportunities to earn additional income on an as and when basis, doing valuable work that they enjoy.

“Undertaking relief work has been a useful entry route for people to obtain experience with the council and then to successfully gain permanent employment when vacancies arise. “