I saw this cartoon in the Private Eye satirical paper while in hospital. Made me chuckle.
Just the idea of ants on a zero-hours contract. As if ants would stop working because the contract stopped them. And it just got me thinking about the nature of work. It’s a terrible anthropomorphism but human beings have been conditioned to ‘work to rule’. Zero hours contracts are a scandal that is an affront to the very core of the human condition. That’s quite a claim isn’t it? So get ready for a bit of a left wing theological rant. If you don’t fancy that, you might want to give this blog a miss…
So let’s start with that great lesson from The Ant. The Bible can anthropomorphise with the best of us…
You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions. So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing? How long before you get out of bed? A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, poverty your permanent houseguest!
Of course, ants react to their biological impulses to build the nest. It is what they are designed to do, what they were made to do. But what of humans? Most folk complain about their work. Especially the bits that are tedious, repetitive or difficult. But we are human beings and therefore, I believe, God designed us to work.
Six days God worked on creation, then took a day off. When he made Adam, the first man, he set him to work in the garden of Eden. God told his people to work for six days a week and rest for one. That’s the pattern for a good life and a good society. Again, in the New Testament folk are told ‘if you don’t work, you won’t eat, so pull your finger out!’ So God’s plan for us is to work. It’s what we are designed for.
So how on earth do we get to a situation where people are on a contract where they are told ‘Sorry. No work for you today. And you may not work for anybody else.’ Bizarely, this is preventing people from working.
So if God’s design is for everyone to work… and these contracts are actually stopping people from working … QED (quod erat demonstrandum) … then Zero Hours Contracts are immoral and anti-Christian because they can actually prevent people from working.
How did we get ourselves into this situation folks, where we are forcing people not to work and calling it employment 😖 ???
I understand from ACAS that exclusivity clauses are no longer legal. They state the law as that :
it will be automatically unfair if someone is dismissed if they have breached a contractual clause stopping them from working for another employer
it is unlawful for a worker to suffer a detriment because they work for another employer.
But is that how it really works? If the firm has ten zero hours contractors, and you do a few hours work elsewhere and can’t do a shift, then will you be asked in again? I think not.
So … rant over. People should be allowed to work. Not all work is paid, but healthy people should be out adding value to the world at large, paid or unpaid.
Sitting in my hospital bed I think I value work more than ever before. It is a precious gift from God, bringing self-respect, purpose and yes… the money we need to live on.
So thank God for work… and ban the iniquitous zero hours contract.
This is my first ever blog with an action point. If you agree, you can sign the petition here.