A worker at Exeter University has accused it of exploiting its temporary workers after being hired on “zero hours” basis.

The Accusation

A worker has accused Exeter University for exploiting its temporary staff by employing them on a “zero hours” basis. After hearing the accusation, the GMB union contacted the university in order to review its regular staffing arrangements.

The worker claimed he started with fixed hours on a four-month contract as a temporary employee. However, he said that he, along with his colleagues ended up working on a “zero hours” basis. This was at an average of three days weekly, which “disrupted benefits claims” due to the unpredictability of their hours.

The worker said: “Workers are often left wondering how much work they will have without a base minimum which leaves them guessing at their income, stability and future plans.

“The effects are felt in financial terms but also in mental wellbeing with trying to manage the pressures and stresses of keeping up with rent payments, bills and council tax.”

He added: “I’d be interested in their response to how they reconcile their temp/casual staff practices with their website statement of being an ’employer of choice’ and half of their staff being covered by the recognised Investors in People. Such claims are being damaged by their exploiting of temps/casuals in my view.”

A GMB union regional organizer, Matt Roberts, said: “Whilst the university may state that all applicants are advised of terms and conditions before commencing employment, if someone needs a job they will inevitably have to accept, as principles cannot put food on the table.

“Therefore the GMB call on the university to review the use of all casual staffing arrangements, as the taxpayers of this city should not be subsidising a prestigious institution’s workforce through the benefits system.”

The University on the Issue

A University of Exeter spokesman has told reporters that it couldn’t comment on each individual case, but emphasized that it is “deeply committed to providing pay and conditions of employment and a working environment which maintains our position as an attractive employer, locally, nationally and internationally.”

John Philips, the Regional Secretary of GMB, said: “These figures lift the lid on the insecure reality of the modern world of work.

“Here on our own doorstep in the South West we are witnessing an epidemic of precarious work – and it is growing at a frightening rate among our women workers.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are going to work either not knowing what their hours are, if they’ll be able to pay the bills, or what their long term prospects are. Many of these companies can afford to treat their workers better but instead put fat profit margins before people.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here