Another Tory 'let them eat cake' moment


Iain Duncan Smith's 'Marie Antoinette' moment today has revealed just how out of touch the Tories are about the lives of working people.

Instead of acknowledging the worrying growth of zero-hours contracts in our economy, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions today chose to defend them – arguing this morning that we should simply rename them as flexible hours contracts. 

Instead of pledging to tackle exploitation in the labour market he refused to even acknowledge there was a problem.

The Tories have a history of Let Them Eat Cake moments. Today's comment comes from the minister who renamed the Bedroom Tax the 'removal of the spare room subsidy' and the party which insisted on calling the poll tax the 'community charge'. 

And three weeks ago David Cameron said that more people are using food banks because of better advertising – next he'll be rebadging them as Big Society supermarkets.

This reveals an important truth about the Tories – they simply won't stand up for working people. Just a few weeks ago David Cameron admitted he couldn't live on a zero-hours contract. 

But the Tories seem happy for working people to be stuck in low-paid zero-hour contract jobs. It's becoming increasingly clear throughout this campaign that they will only stand up for a privileged few.

The reality – that the Tories refused to acknowledge – is that for too many people zero-hours contracts leave them without a regular income and not knowing from one day to the next how much work they will get. 

The number of people with zero-hour contracts has increased by almost 20 per cent in the last year and surveys show that over half of young people on these contracts are on them because they could not find a job with regular hours. 

Companies such as Sports Direct are hiring the vast majority of their workers on zero-hours contracts, even though they have predictable and manageable fluctuations in demand and many of these employees reportedly work regular hours in practice.

This is insecurity dressed up as flexibility. It's not acceptable, it's not fair and Labour will act to stop it.

Labour will ban exploitative zero-hours contracts. With Labour, if you work regular hours for 12 weeks or more you will get a right to a regular contract. 

We will also give workers on zero-hours contracts new rights to be protected from employers forcing them to be available at all hours or cancelling shifts at short notice without compensation.

Labour is clear: we don't need to rename exploitative zero-hours contracts. We need to ban them.​