WEST Dunbartonshire Council have decided to continue to use casual and supply workers as part of their workforce, despite one councillor claiming there were workers within the local authority on zero hours contracts.

Councillor Jim Bollan, of the Community Party, stood up at full council last week and held what he said were two council contracts, one headed “statement of working arrangement”.

Cllr Bollan said: “There is absolutely no doubt about it that we have workmen on this council on zero hours contracts.”

He then asked the SNP’s convener of corporate services, Councillor Ian Dickson: “Can you tell me that we don’t have workers on zero hours contracts?”

Cllr Dickson replied: “That’s my understanding, we don’t employ anyone on zero hours contracts.”

In response, Cllr Bollan said: “Zero hours contracts are exploitative. It is unfair and unsuitable for us as a council for anyone to be employed on these contracts. It gives a worker no legitimate rights for a employer to give him any hours of work.

“That is unacceptable in this day and age. We should not be putting our names to that. Our workers are being exploited.”

Cllr Bollan moved an amendment stating: “That the council agrees from May 1, 2018 to define all workers who have worked for at least four weeks for the council on any type of zero hours contract including casual workers, sessional workers or temp workers as employees, giving them in so far as the law and any national agreements permit the same legal protection and employment rights as permanent contracted employees.

“Council further agrees that every newly classed employee from May 1 will have a minimum number of hours per week stated in their contract, after agreement with the employing department. From May 1 all the newly classed employees must receive pro rata sick pay and have access to the full grievance procedures not the watered-down ACAS version. Any additional costs for 2018/19 to be taken from reserves.”

The amendment was seconded by Labour’s Councillor Lawrence O’Neill.

But Council leader Jonathan McColl said: “We do not have zero hours contracts in West Dunbartonshire. What Cllr Bollan has held up is not a contract. We don’t have a magic money tree and what Cllr Bollan proposes, we would have to make cuts to implement. What we provide at present is excellent.”

Councillors supported the recommendation by their people and technology officers by 12 votes to nine.

A spokesman for West Dunbartonshire Council said after the meeting: “We do not use zero hour contracts. To ensure we can continue to provide valuable services to our residents when we face unforeseen circumstances such as absence or unexpected events, we have a casual and supply pool of workers whom we can approach to see if they are available to help.

“These workers are paid in line with the council pay grades for the positions and are both entitled to and paid for annual leave. Our workforce policies comply with employment legislation and in addition we promote and encourage trade union membership.”

As of September 30, 2017, there were 426 workers registered on the council’s casual supply pool. Over a 12-week period, 8,600 hours were worked by 103 people, which represented seven hours a week.