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‘Sacked by app’… TUC raps zero hours exploitation

Throwaway culture: Frances O’Grady says staff have little control PICTURE: PA

STAFF are treated as ‘throwaway workers with throwaway rights’ as technology allows new methods of exploitation, a union leader warned.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said mistreatment of staff has been transformed by the economy and technology, comparing people on zero hours contracts waiting by the phone for work to how dockers once waited by the quayside for jobs.

She said casual workers can be ‘sacked’ via apps, their livelihoods at the mercy of bosses they never meet or speak to.

Ms O’Grady told the TUC Congress in Brighton yesterday there was a desperate need to improve rights and conditions. Staff had ‘precious little dignity or control — treated as throwaway workers with throwaway rights’, she said.

The TUC said firms such as Uber have been known to deactivate the accounts of some drivers, ending a person’s employment with the app. It said companies such as Amazon used technology to record if staff hit targets, with workers facing disciplinary action if they fail.

Uber said: ‘With our app, drivers are totally free to choose if, when and where they drive with no shifts or minimum hours.’

Amazon said it ‘provides a safe and positive workplace with competitive pay and benefits. We offer great jobs with opportunities for growth.’

■ A DESK job can almost double the risk of an early death, a study has found. Those who sat for long periods were up to twice as likely to die within four years. People who sat for less than 30 minutes at a time had the lowest risk. Keith Diaz, of Columbia University, New York, said: ‘If you have to sit for prolonged periods of time, we suggest taking a movement break every half hour.’