Construction output shows signs of bounceback

The latest statistics on the numbers of people on zero-hours contracts show yet another failure by the Conservative government, as the figure tops almost one million.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics suggested today that construction output stayed flat between June and July - against expectations of a 0.5 per cent drop.

Nearly a million workers are on zero-hours contracts - a rise of a fifth in the past year, according to official figures.

Yet the ONS found 30 per cent of zero-hours workers wanted more hours versus 10 per cent of all workers.

The ONS releases this figure twice a year - the figure for October to December 2015 was that about 801,000 people were on zero hours contracts.

The ONS also estimates the total number of zero-hours contracts in the economy based on a survey of businesses rather than households.

While that may increase pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May to preserve trade with the European Union as she negotiates Britain's withdrawal, Brexit supporters point to the fact that the bloc sells far more to the United Kingdom than vice versa.

They had largely been expecting a fall in construction volumes on the back of a survey of purchasing managers which had recorded the steepest decline in seven years for July ahead of a recovery last month.

But the number of people affected is on the rise, as companies hire more workers on a casual basis, with 2.9 per cent of the whole workforce now zero-hours workers.

Arriving in China, Obama promotes climate legacy
The White House has attributed the accelerated pace to the unlikely partnership between Washington and Beijing on the issue. The U.S. and China are poised to lead the way in the G20 (on climate action) so other countries will follow.

Zero hours contracts mean staff do not have guaranteed weekly hours or pay and are only paid for hours worked. The ONS warns that the figures may have been influenced by greater awareness of the contracts, although it could not quantify how much of an effect there had been.

TUC general secretary Francs O'Grady hit out at the figures, arguing the contracts were an "easy way for bosses to employ staff on the cheap".

The number of zero-hours contracts appears to have increased sharply in the wake of the 2008-09 recession.

Defenders of the contracts say that young people and students benefit from their flexibility.

The Government has already banned exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts which prevented workers from taking jobs elsewhere.

The median hourly rate for a zero-hours worker is £7.25, while for all employees it is £11.05, the study showed.

"Since May a year ago, the use of exclusivity clauses has been unlawful, meaning that individuals have more control over their lives and can work more hours with another employer if they wish". But they are not the ones living at the sharp end of the labour market'.

- Sign the petition against zero-hours contracts.

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