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Government 'already acting' on zero-hours terms

Miliband will use a speech to criticise the "Victorian practices" of some employers. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Business Minister Matthew Hancock says the government is already tackling the abuse of zero-hours contracts amid criticism from Labour leader Ed Miliband over the practice.

Hancock said Miliband's plans to ban employers from using such terms represented a "rehashed policy" and said Miliband's own Doncaster Council had admitted using 300 people on zero-hours terms.

"We're already tackling the abuse of zero-hours contracts - after 13 years of Labour doing absolutely nothing about it.

– Matthew Hancock, Business Minister

Miliband attacks Sports Direct over zero-hours contracts

Ed Miliband will single out high-street chain Sports Direct for criticism over its use of zero-hours contracts in a speech today.

Sports Direct has said it will change its working practices. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

The Labour leader will accuse a number of firms of using "Victorian practices" in using such terms, which see employees given no guaranteed hours and those at the top can escape taxation.

Speaking in Coventry, Miliband will describe Sports Direct as an example of a firm where the "vast majority" of employees are on zero-hours - calling it a "bad place to work" for many staff.

The retail giant agreed last month to make "major changes" for staff after legal action brought by a former employee.

Sports Direct did not comment on Mr Miliband's attack, but repeated an earlier statement on its plans to make changes.

A spokesman said: "The company will continue the process of reviewing, updating and improving our core employment documents and procedures across our entire business beyond its existing compliant framework."

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Council strikes averted after workers accept pay offer

The prospect of further strikes involving 1.5 million council workers has been averted after an improved pay offer was accepted in a vote.

Public sector workers protested outside the Houses of Parliament in July after receiving the offer of a pay rise deal worth an average 1%. Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Members of Unison, Unite and the GMB backed a two year deal worth an average of 2.35%, having rejected an earlier 1% offer from the Local Government Association.

The council workers and support staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland went on strike in July and had planned another walkout last month.

Scottish Power sales ban threat over customer service

Ofgem is investigating Scottish Power's treatment of customers. Credit: PA

Big Six energy supplier Scottish Power was today ordered by regulator Ofgem to improve the way it deals with customers or face a sales ban.

Ofgem found the firm was making customers wait for too long on the telephone, forcing a quarter of calls to be abandoned, while too many bills were also being sent out late.

Ofgem warned the Spanish-owned firm that failure to meet new targets would result in it having to suspend sales activities.

It has separately launched an investigation into the gas and electricity supplier's treatment of customers.

Jaguar Land Rover workers threaten to strike over pay and pensions

Jaguar Land Rover is facing the threat of strike action after workers overwhelmingly rejected the company's latest pay and pension offer.

Some 96% of workers voted against Jaguar Land Rover's proposed changes to pay. Credit: PA Wire

Unite union said 96 per cent of its members had rejected the proposed changes, claiming it "fell short of expectations" and "failed to recognise the workforce’s contribution to last year’s profits of £2.5 billion".

ITV News Business Editor Joel Hills said that while the company was "thriving" the Jaguar Land Rover workforce were "unhappy with the way wealth is being shared".

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Thousands of Christmas jobs still available

Employers are struggling to recruit staff ahead of the festive period, with thousands of Christmas jobs still available, a new report suggests.

Jobs website Adzuna said there were more jobs up for grabs this year, including some unusual seasonal offerings such as apprentice turkey chef, train driving elf and Christmas present selector.

There are some unusual jobs on offer at Christmas. Credit: Fiona Hanson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Most of the festive positions are in sales, logistics and retail, with 9,000 still available, the firm added.

The best paid Christmas jobs include Christmas Day driver (£500 a day), emergency nurse (£400) and locum medical consultants (£700), while the worst include care worker (£6.31 an hour) and waiting staff (£6.50 per hour).

Ed Balls 'hopes' cost of living crisis is 'at an end'

Credit: PA Images

Labour's shadow chancellor Ed Balls has said he hopes that the recent signs that pay is rising faster than inflation could signal the end of the "cost of living crisis".

When asked by the BBC if the recent announcement by the Bank of England marked "the beginning of the end for the cost of living crisis", Mr Balls said:

Well, I hope so, but I have got to say, wages rising by 1.3% hailed as ‘remarkable’ by a Conservative minister, that just shows how out of touch Iain Duncan Smith and George Osborne are.

The average working person in our country is £1600 a year worse off. Month after month for years, prices have been going up faster than wages, we’ve now had one month where wages went up by 0.1% more than prices, because prices are really low at 1.2%, as the Governor of the Bank of England says.

– Ed Balls, Shadow Chancellor

Sainsbury's pledges to cut spending in 'tough market'

Sainsbury's has said it will reduce spending on new stores and look into more cost-saving methods to help finance price cuts in an effort to cope with the toughest market conditions for decades.

Sainsbury's posted a profit before tax and one off items of £375 million for the six months to 27th Sept. This figure is ahead of analysts' expectations of about £350 million, but down from £400 million in the same period last year.

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