COMMUNITY campaigners have called for zero-hours contracts to be banned, saying they stop people contributing fully to society.

Members of the anti-poverty organisation Thrive Teesside, in Stockton, have shared their experiences to raise the issue.

One woman, Diane, who did not want to give her surname, recently left her third such contract in children’s nurseries, and said the volatile hours made planning very difficult.

She said: “I would usually hear on the Friday or Saturday what my hours would be for the following week. My experience of zero-hours contracts is that you are just up and down all the time. You are always juggling things.

“I had support from a local organisation here but I went to the foodbank and it was not a great experience. The people at the church were lovely, and it felt very comfortable and we had a chat and a cuppa but the situation where there are people on benefits, or being sanctioned, or working yet having to access foodbanks is disgusting. We are supposed to be one of the richest countries in the world.

“I think zero-hours contracts should be banned. It is not giving people the stability to be able to contribute to the economy, because you cannot say ‘I am going to buy this, or do this’. Everybody I talk to says they should be banned.”

She said nursery workers often saw their hours drop when terms ended, because many parents receive free child care only in term time.

She said: “The Government say you can do more than one zero-hours contract but it’s not possible unless you are working at weekends for one of them, or in the evenings, as shifts clash. And it’s hard to find things on a weekend, especially locally."

Tanya Lawson, another member of Thrive, said: “How are people to live a decent life when they do not know how many hours they will do? I know people who have gone to work and been sent home because there is no work to do. How are they to pay bills and keep food on the table? I know people who have lost their homes.”

Colin Jeffrey, also of Thrive, said: “The number of people in low-paid jobs is getting bigger. There’s also a lot of concern about mental health problems.

“People are looking for work and want jobs that pay a living wage, but they are often forced to take lower paid jobs and work lots of hours to get the income. They might just pay the rent, but are barely in the house. Poverty stretches a long, long way, in district after district."