Manchester University gets rid of zero-hour contracts

The University of Manchester has announced that it will no longer use zero-hour contracts as part of its private catering company.

Following a campaign by Unison to stop using these temporary contracts, the University has decided to terminate them in order to create fairer conditions for those working in hospitality employment.

This move follows figures released last year by the Work Foundation, which revealed that 58 per cent of zero-hour workers are in low-paid service occupations, most of which were in the hospitality sector. In total, a fifth of all hospitality workplaces were taking on zero-hour staff. This remains a hot issue within the industry, especially as workers have no certainty over their working hours within this tough economic climate.

Unison steward and chef at the university Kevin Gaskell-Clow said: "The catering staff at the university came to Unison because they were unable to obtain mortgages or secure rental agreements, and they were struggling to budget for the next week's shopping. All this was because of the uncertainty around their working hours under zero hours contracts. Now they have greater security of income and work regular hours each week."

It has further emerged that the university spent £13,533 on agency staff in the past 12 months. Not only does this equate to £1,422 per employee but it is one of the highest spends made by a UK university on agency staff.

Unison will now continue to campaign for a series of other causes, such as a living wage for all staff and an improvement on the one per cent pay rise that will be offered by universities. In regards to the latter issue, union members are planning to strike over the matter on February 6th.

Berkeley Scott is a specialist recruitment agency in the catering industry.