This could be an area where the Cornish Assembly could protect Cornish workers. The Assembly, with devolved planning powers drawn-down from Westminster, should make it law in Cornwall that those companies applying for planning permission in Cornwall, must comply with Cornish employment rights. These rights should be further implemented across Cornwall.
Apart from the existing employment rights, further rights can be drawn-up within an Assembly consultation that consists of the Cornish members of Usdaw and Unite etc; including members of the Cornish business community. Those businesses that respects its workforce; treats its workforce as an asset – not a necessary inconvenience.
Perhaps one of the more contentious employee contracts are Zero Hours:
Zero contracts are contracts of employment which do not specify any number of hours that the employee will be required to work. These types of contracts are common among shop workers. The contract says that instead of working a specific number of hours per week, you must be ready to work whenever you are asked.
Last year, Business Cornwall claimed that according to a new survey, 14% of firms in the South West are in favour of zero-hours contracts despite the widespread controversy surrounding them. The study also found that 10% of businesses in the region currently have staff employed on zero-hours contracts, while 16% are planning to implement them in the near future.
The statistical ‘invisiblity cloak’ of a ‘South West region” means numbers for Cornish firms are not clear. It might be that a majority are in favour of zero hours in Cornwall. It is claimed national firms such as Tesco, Argos and Homebase in Cornwall have had, or continue to have, such contracts.
According to ONS the figures for Zero Hours contracts are on the rise.
Released 25th February 2015:
• Number of people employed on a “zero-hours contract” in their main job was 697,000 for October to December 2014, representing 2.3% of all people in employment. In the same period in 2013, this was 1.9% of all people in employment (586,000).
• The number of people saying they are employed on “zero-hours contracts” depends on whether or not they recognise this term. It is not possible to say how much of the increase between 2013 and 2014 is due to greater recognition rather than new contracts.
• Number of contracts that do not guarantee a minimum number of hours where work was carried out was 1.8 million for the fortnight beginning 11 August 2014. The previously published estimate was 1.4 million for the fortnight beginning 20 January 2014.
• The two estimates of contracts should not be directly compared. They cover different times of year so changes in the numbers may reflect seasonal factors.
• On average, someone on a “zero-hours contract” usually works 25 hours a week.
• Around a third of people on “zero-hours contracts” want more hours, with most wanting them in their current job, compared with 10% of other people in employment.
• People on “zero-hours contracts” are more likely to be women, in full-time education or working part-time. They are also more likely to be aged under 25 or 65 and over.
• Over half of employers in Accommodation and Food Services and a quarter of employers in Education made some use of no guaranteed hours contracts in August 2014.
In Scotland, the SNP have the ‘SNP Trade Union Group’ – a network of SNP members who are trade union members and activists that gives a voice to Scottish workers. Promotes polices to increase employment and engages with the Scottish government.
A Cornish Assembly: the only mechanism capable of lifting Cornwall from its current levels of poverty
Of course, this is just one issue that provides the evidence that Westminster, in all its colours, never worked for Cornwall and continues not to work for Cornwall. Westminster is now denying Cornwall the right to spend its own EU funding. Westminster is broken. Westminster is London-centric. Westminster has succeeded only in creating the conditions and circumstances that will be embraced by the far right.
It’s vital then, that the people of Cornwall, Cornish politicians, including those on Cornwall Council, gives their support towards a Cornish Assembly. For that is the only mechanism that will allow Cornwall to make the decisions and polices that are suitable for the people of Cornwall; policies that will enable Cornwall to rise from its current levels of poverty. Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall – exists to provide that mechanism.