PROTESTERS took to the streets to campaign against “disgraceful” zero hours contracts which they say are exploiting Bolton’s workers.

A demonstration organised by the Bolton Trade Union Council on Saturday (March 29) saw campaigners take over the steps to Bolton Town Hall with placards and megaphones.

Protesters erected a ‘wall of shame’ detailing the corporations they claim exploit Bolton’s workforce with zero hours contracts.

Flexible zero hours are where staff are hired with no guarantee of work, paid an hourly rate and can be informed of shifts at short notice.

Organiser Andy Birchall, from Unite, said: “This ongoing problem is happening all over the country and is affecting our friends and family members in Bolton.

“People are being taken on and then not called for weeks, and some contracts even stop people from looking elsewhere for more work.

“You can end up with nothing to live off — you can’t pay your rent, apply for a loan or get a mortgage. It is complete exploitation.

“These are not small businesses trying to get off the ground, they are multimillion pound organisations.”

Jim Halliday attended the protest with his two and a half-year-old son Alfie because he says his ex-partner, Alfie’s mum, is employed on a zero hours contract with Bolton Council.

Jim, aged 52, from Halliwell, said: “She finds it a struggle because you never know when you are working.

“Some weeks she works 40 to 50 hours then she will hear nothing for two or three weeks.

“You can’t live like that, and the government are doing nothing to stop it.

“Everyone has bills to pay and zero hours contracts offer no security.”

Julie Hilling, MP for Bolton West, also attended to offer her support to the protesters.

She said: “Labour is committed to legislating against zero hours contracts.

“We want to make it law that you cannot be tied just to one contract and that if you have been employed for 12 weeks your contract should be made permanent.

“There is a place for zero hours contracts, but not the way they are currently being used.”