Speaking in the Assembly Chamber this afternoon, North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood challenged the Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James AM, over why Wales has the highest percentage of employees not on permanent contracts amongst the 12 UK nations and regions

In the Opposition Debate on Zero Hour Contracts, Mr Isherwood said according to figures published by the Carnegie UK Trust in December, Wales has the highest percentage of employees not on permanent contracts and the second highest proportion of employees on zero-hours contracts across the 12 UK Nations and Regions.

He added: “These figures from Carnegie UK Trust also confirm that after almost 18 years in Government, Welsh Labour has left Wales with the highest levels of under employment across the 12 UK nations and regions.

“Welsh Labour rhetoric about social justice is exposed as ideological hot air by the reality with numbers of working age people in Wales not in employment back up to 520,000 and Wales remaining at the bottom of the UK prosperity league table.”

Meanwhile, Mr Isherwood has welcomed the clamp down by the UK Government on abuses in zero-hours contracts.  

He said: “Legally enforceable contracts with no stipulated minimum hours of work have long been a lifeline for millions of students, single parents, older people and carers. As early as 2000, the ONS estimates that there were 225,000 people on zero hour contracts.    

“Their usage doubled under Labour between 2004 and 2010, but Labour took no action to prohibit exploitative exclusivity clauses within them.

“It was only after Labour lost office that Conservative led Government banned the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hour contracts and it is now illegal for employers to include them in zero hour contracts, meaning that people have the freedom to look for and take other work opportunities and have more control over their work hours and income.

“The current Taylor Review on Modern Employment Practices, commissioned by the UK Government, should also be welcomed.

“As the independent Chair, Matthew Taylor, states “the most important part of our process is getting out and about to talk to businesses and workers across Britain about their experiences of modern work. As well as making specific recommendations I hope the review will promote a national conversation and explore how we can all contribute to work that provides opportunity, fairness and dignity”.”