New research, unveiled at the union’s 100th annual congress in Plymouth, reveals that up to one in three of the UK workforce are now in precarious employment – defined as those in the gig economy, on zero or short hours contracts, temporary workers, the underemployed and those at risk of bogus self-employment.
Precarious work impacts on the individual worker, their family and on the Treasury. A GMB poll asked 1,000 precarious workers about their finances and priorities and found:
- 61% had suffered stress or anxiety as a result of their current job
- 61% said they have been to work while unwell for fear of not being paid, losing their job or missing out on future hours
- 35% would struggle to cope with an unexpected bill for £500, such as a car needing repairs or washing machine needing to be replaced
- 69% say their cost of living is rising faster than their earnings
- 78% previously had permanent employment, highlighting the changing nature of the workplace
Meanwhile, research from the TUC recently found that Black, Asian and minority ethnic workers are over a third more likely than white workers to be in insecure employment.
- The study found that 1 in 13 BAME employees are in insecure jobs, compared to 1 in 20 white employees.
- There are over three million BAME employees in the UK, of whom nearly a quarter of a million are in zero-hours or temporary work.
- Black workers in particular face insecurity at work, and are more than twice as likely as white workers to be in temporary and zero-hours work. 1 in 8 black workers are in these forms of work, compared to 1 in 20 for white workers.
- The report also finds that between 2011 and 2016, the number of black workers on temporary contracts shot up by 58% – over seven times the increase for white workers (8%).
- Black women have been the worst affected, with 82% more now in temporary jobs than in 2011, compared to a 37% increase for black men.
- Previous TUC research shows that temporary and zero-hours workers typically get paid over a third less than workers on permanent contracts.
Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said:
“This paints a shocking picture of the modern world of work.
“Up to 10 million people go to work either not knowing what their hours are, if they’ll be able to pay the bills, or what their long term prospects are.
“That’s a sorry state of affairs in the 21st century and a product of government’s failure to tackle bogus self-employment, the use of agency contracts a business model and point blank refusal to ban zero hours contracts.
“We hear a lot about employment figures, well this research shows the today’s job market is based on a shaky foundation of insecure work where people are doing their best but still not able to get on. Insecure work impacts on people’s health, their families and whether they are able to plan for the future.
“If our economy slows down even further – these precarious workers will be the first to suffer.
“There is a political choice to be made. Our workforce, communities and indeed the Treasury is paying the price of insecure work, it’s not fair and it’s not sustainable.”
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady added:
“This problem isn’t simply going to disappear. Dealing with insecure work has to be top of the list for the next government. And we need a real national strategy to confront racism in the labour market.”