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Parties clash in living-wage row

Reporter: Alex Carey and Robbie MacDonald at Oldham Council
Date online: 03 April 2014

ZERO-HOUR contracts and the living wage sparked debate between Oldham’s Labour and Lib-Dem councillors last night.

The two parties were at odds over the wording of a motion proposed by Labour’s Councillor Jenny Harrison to raise the profile of the Oldham Fair Employment Charter — aimed to ensure workers are paid at least what it costs them to live.

Lib-Dem councillors felt the motion’s “enough is enough” stance on zero-hour contracts — workers with no set or guaranteed hours — was too strong and that in certain cases such contracts are beneficial.

Councillor Howard Sykes, leader of the Lib-Dem group, said: “In some work environments zero-hour contracts are a good thing. They are used as a way of fitting working times around the employee for what best suits them. A number of businesses offer zero-hour contracts in a responsible and ethical manner.”

But Labour Councillor Dave Houle said: “If people on zero-hour contracts don’t get work they don’t get any money and this cannot be allowed. Oldhamers deserve better than that.”

Questions were also raised over what Labour’s motion meant by the “living wage” and whether that was Oldham’s local cost of living — £7.11 per hour — or the national estimate of £7.65 per hour.

Councillor Sykes added: “The living wage is a concern for me — we all know people should be paid the national figure but we feel this will not happen.”

Councillor McMahon said: “This council will be paying the national living wage by 2015 and will do it in the right way.”

The parties agreed that the council will write to the borough’s three MPs and ask for support in promoting the Oldham Fair Employment Charter.


Trust the Lib Dems to support zero hours contracts. They are in a cosy relationship with the Tory government and don't want to upset Cameron and his ilk even at a local level. Pity we can't have Howard Sykes on zero hour contract in his role of councillor.

The 'cost of living crisis' is yet another blame dodge from all three parties, to disguise the levels of stealth taxes they have levied on the poor.
Council tax more than doubled in past 10 years
Social housing Rent - Massively increased
Public transport subsidy massively reduced
30% stealth taxes on gas & electric
VAT up another 2.5%
No wonder people can't afford to live! But don't expect the big three to admit it's their fault, it's much nicer to pass the buck like they always do!

Howard Sykes ( Ex Leader of Oldham Council for a reason ) just shows how detached he is from reality 0 hours contracts are just another way of ripping off the hard working council tax paying people of Oldham, If he is so in favour why doesn't he offer to work one year on a zero hour contract so he only gets paid for the work he actually does ( AND NO EXPENSES )


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