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WHAT do Buckingham Palace, Amazon and McDonalds all have in common? As we have found out over the last couple of weeks, all of them rely heavily on staff that are on zero-hour contracts.
It is difficult to imagine the financial worry that is placed on hundreds of thousands of people employed on zero-hours contracts in Britain today. With a zero-hours contract, an employee has no guaranteed hours and is only paid for the work they actually complete.
For a significant number this will mean a waiting game every week to see if they are asked to work that day, and for those with young families, a difficult and expensive search for immediate childcare. Some workers even have to turn up at the start of the day and wait around for hours before their paid work starts.
AS you are reading this article online, you may be under the impression that almost everyone else can do the same.
But according to the Government regulator, OFCOM, Glasgow has the lowest level of broadband take-up of any major UK city. Over the last year, I have spent more and more time with local groups and community activists talking about the impact of this digital divide, particularly for those seeking work or who will be caught by the forthcoming introduction of Universal Credit.
Ofcom's 2012 consumer market report showed that against a UK average of 76 per cent take-up, only 60 per cent of Glasgow's households had fixed broadband. However behind this statistic is an even bigger problem which was highlighted by the Carnegie Trust's report, Across the Divide published in May.
LAST week I asked a question of the Prime Minister which quite frankly, stumped him. My constituents however would not have been amused that it was on the issue they contact me most frequently about, housing.
In this country there is a chronic lack of affordable homes to rent or buy, a ballooning but very fragmented private rented sector and more young people giving up on ever being able to afford their own home; these are persistent problems requiring bold solutions.
But the Government's only bright idea - the Help to Buy programme - is to provide a system of state guarantees on mortgages similar to those issued by the doomed US mortgage banks, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
MEMBERSHIP of the EU is certainly not the main talking point in Glasgow, particularly at a time when families are struggling to make ends meet.
But it's been hard to miss the extraordinary antics of Tory M.P.'s this week at Westminster when they have led their own P.M a merry dance whilst he was ironically meeting President Obama to promote the benefits of a trade agreement between Europe and the USA.
Given the Tories are clearly not able to tackle the real challenges we face around the economy they prefer instead to have petty squabbles amongst themselves and endanger our longstanding successful alliance in the Europe that could result in a very negative impact on everybody's lives.
THIS week the Tory led Government claimed that a growth rate in the last quarter of a measly 0.3 per cent was a success. But it is plain to see in Glasgow that their economic plan isn't working.
In 2009 before this Government took office, there were under 2000 people out of work for more than two years in Scotland. That number now stands at over 17,000 a rise of over 500 per cent.
The Work Programme is failing to get the long-term unemployed into jobs. Its results have been worse than doing nothing with just two in 100 jobseekers helped into sustained employment. Underneath all the bluster they don't have any answers for their catastrophic failure to get Britain working again.
First published March 22, 2013
GROWTH down, borrowing up, families hit and millionaires laughing all the way to the bank. That was the analysis of this week's budget which revealed the Tory led government's true colours - a Government protecting the wealthiest at the expense of those who are struggling the most.
I have written previously in this column about the damaging bedroom tax and how it affects hard working families in Glasgow. George Osborne has clearly ignored the real concerns of thousands of people about how they will cope when this damaging and unfair tax is introduced next month.
We need a Government that can tackle the current housing crisis with measures that will revive house building and drive costs down.
WHEN Westminster was on recess I used the opportunity to get out and about the constituency to meet local people and community groups.
Conversations have been dominated by the bedroom tax which is fast becoming as notorious as the "poll tax" was in the 1990's - local welfare advisors are already picking up on an alarming increase in the number of people who admit to feeling suicidal.
The Tory-led government's so called 'bedroom tax' is the latest in a series of cuts to those who live and work on the lowest incomes across our city.
THIS week I attended an extraordinary debate in the House of Commons spurred by the current inquiry initiated by the Scottish Affairs Committee on Blacklisting of workers.
At times I felt that we were listening to a history lesson about a time many decades ago when standing up for your rights and decent working conditions meant you didn't work and your family suffered as a consequence.
But shockingly this was about a practice which is still present in the 21st century.
PAYDAY loans are increasingly seen as a standard way to fix temporary money worries, to pay bills or even rent.
I was given a recent example of a £400 loan over 13 days carrying an equivalent APR of 7,000,000% - yes that's seven million!
More and more people are having no option but to take these desperate measures to meet their bills and it's why I questioned the Government over their reluctance to respond to this crisis.
THIS week, Glasgow witnessed its first big freeze with temperatures plummeting to below zero and people running to look out their scarves, gloves and hats from the back of the wardrobe.
But thousands of people in our city are hesitating about putting up their thermostats because they are afraid of the costs. Energy bills are soaring, driving up inflation and contributing to the cost of living crisis affecting millions of families across the U.K.
The cost of a typical dual fuel bill is now £1,365 - up by more than £250 since this Tory-led Government came to power, meaning that energy bills are now one of the biggest costs families face.