Exclusive: Labour takes on bad bosses in bid to save the Union with Scotland as Ed Miliband pledges to end ‘epidemic’ of zero-hours contracts

Ed Miliband reveals pledges for party's election manifesto

Political Editor

A promise to ban zero-hours contracts which exploit workers will be included in the Labour manifesto for next year’s general election, Ed Miliband will announce on Friday.

The Labour leader will deliver his pledge in Scotland in an attempt to turn the tide ahead of the referendum in September, amid growing anxiety among the three main political parties that supporters of independence are closing the gap on the No camp. Mr Miliband will argue that Alex Salmond, the Scottish National Party leader, could not deliver social justice in an independent Scotland because he would help businesses undercut their rivals in the rest of the UK.

His intervention is significant because centre-left voters who have previously backed Labour could hold the key to whether Scotland votes to break away.

A “poll of polls” for The Independent by John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, shows that the number of Scots backing independence has risen from 38 to 44 per cent since February last year, while the No camp has seen its support drop from 62 to 56 per cent.

As Labour throws its full weight behind the battle to save the Union, the Shadow Cabinet will meet in Glasgow today. Later Mr Miliband, speaking in Motherwell, will announce plans to protect the estimated one million workers hit by the “epidemic” of zero-hours contracts.

Labour’s manifesto will promise these employees:

* A legal right to demand a fixed-hours contract when they have worked regular hours for six months for the same employer, who could reject the request only with a good reason.

* An automatic fixed-hours contract when they have worked regular hours for a year, unless they choose to opt out.

* An end to “exclusivity” clauses which prevent people from working for another employer.

* A ban on contracts forcing employees to be available at all hours.

* Compensation, such as two hours’ pay, when shifts are cancelled at short notice.

* Measures to stop unscrupulous bosses getting round the new law by laying people off just before they qualify for a fixed contract.

Mr Miliband will insist such measures could only be implemented across the UK. He will claim an independent Scotland would enter a “race to the bottom” with David Cameron as employers on both sides of the border compete with each other. He will point to the SNP’s support for lower corporation tax and its failure to match Labour’s plan to bring back a 50p tax rate on incomes over £150,000 a year.

“The reason the SNP has nothing to say about ending zero-hours contracts is simple: they know that if Scotland left the UK it would be harder to end them either here or in what is left of the UK,” Mr Miliband will claim.

The Labour leader will say: “If we had a border running between Scotland and the rest of the UK, governments on both sides would be under intense pressure from powerful interests to undercut the other by lowering tax rates for the richest or worsen wages for everyone else.”

Mr Miliband’s message will add: “By working together we can ensure that the Tory Government in Westminster is just for one more Christmas. But independence would be forever; by working together we can change Scotland without you having to change your passport.”

Labour’s proposals on zero-hours contracts are based on an independent review by Norman Pickavance, a former director of human resources at Morrisons, who said that paying people fairly is the best way to ensure long-term business productivity.

Mr Miliband’s claims will be hotly disputed by the SNP, which has promised to “deal with abuses” in zero-hours contracts. It argues that the Scottish Government has already used its devolved powers to ensure the economy grows and protect living standards and services, and that more could be achieved after independence.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Recruitment Genius: Fertility Nurse

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join the ho...

Day In a Page

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash