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.

Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
stoptober... when the patch, gum and cold turkey had all faied
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Welsh Year 6 Teacher required in Barry

£100 - £110 per day + Plus travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Welsh Teacher Year 2 required in Caerphilly

£100 - £105 per day + plus Travel Scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

Year 4 Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to work in ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?