UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Zero-Hours Contracts are undermining decent employment in the NHS

We have been told by the Government that the NHS reforms are about improving quality, and patient choice. The reality though is about increasing privatisation and delivering services with less national funding. Already there is an increase in the pace and breadth of privatisation, seeing the likes of Circle Healthcare, Virgin Health to name just two taking over the running of services.

The key question is how do these companies make a profit? Of course it primarily comes from cutting back on staff numbers, and reducing pay, terms and conditions. Hospitals in the South West are trying to form a cartel to attack terms and conditions.

The increase in the use of zero hour contracts is yet another way of reducing staff costs.

The reality is it is nothing more than exploitation of health workers, and will result in a casualisation of the workforce. Just how are people meant to sign a contract which gives no indication of what hours they will be required to work, and subsequently no guarantee of any wages. How are people meant to be able to sign up to such a ridiculous system? It is nothing more than driving down wages, and getting rid of hard fought for rights at work. It drives a hammer through equality rights giving no ability for people with responsibilities such as caring for dependents to be able to organise around work.

Another concern is that the healthcare workforce will be down skilled as the access to training and development will be impacted. Again, this is about saving money.

The campaign to fight the Government's agenda for the NHS at a national, regional and local level is critical. It is important to build alliances across health trade unions, and community campaigning groups to expose the myths of their propanganda, and also to defend the terms and conditons of health workers.

Clare Williams