Ed Miliband will today (Saturday 15th November) declare that Victorian management practices which exploit zero-hours contracts have no place in the modern world and will be banned by a Labour government.
He will use his speech to Labour's West Midlands Regional Conference in Coventry to underline his commitment to tackling the zero-zero economy which reportedly allows firms like Sports Direct to employ more than eight out of ten of its 20,000 workforce on zero-hours contracts – despite many of them working regular hours.
He will promise that the next Labour government will legislate to give such employees the legal right to:
• A regular contract if they are working regular hours.
• Refuse demands that they are available over and above their contracted hours.
• Compensation when shifts are cancelled at short notice.
Ed Miliband is expected to say:
"A graphic symbol of what is wrong with the way this country is run is the army of people working on zero-hours contracts with no security while a few people at the top get away with paying zero tax.
"This zero-zero economy shows we live in a deeply unequal, deeply unfair, deeply unjust country run for a few at the top, not for most people. It is a country I am determined to change.
"Zero-hours contracts are becoming the norm in parts of our economy. Their numbers have increased to 1.4 million since this government came to power.
"It has left too many people not knowing how they will make ends meet from one week to the next, and unable to plan for the future. And this government won't do anything to stop it. But we will.
"We've listened to businesses and we've listened to workers. We cannot go on with an economy that allows businesses to use zero-hours contracts as the standard way of employing people month after month, year after year.
"Sports Direct has thousands of its employers on zero-hours contracts, the vast majority of its workforce.
"Sports Direct has predictable turnover, it is a modern company with stores on many high streets and, judging by its success, where many people shop.
"But for too many of its employees, Sports Direct is a bad place to work.
"This is not about exceptional use of zero-hours contracts for short term or seasonal work which some employers and workers may find convenient. This is the way Sports Direct employs the vast majority of its workforce.
"These Victorian practices have no place in the 21st Century.
"And under a Labour government, the exploitation of zero-hours contracts will be banned.
"We're going to change this zero-zero economy.
"Because under Labour, if you work regular hours you will have a legal right to a regular contract."