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Norwich Cathedral defends use of zero hours contracts, despite Archbishop of Canterbury's 'evil' remarks

PUBLISHED: 10:39 14 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:50 14 September 2018

Norwich Cathedral. Picture: Mike Page

Norwich Cathedral. Picture: Mike Page

Copypright Mike Page, All Rights Reserved Before any use is made of this picture, including dispaly, publication, broadcast, syn

Norwich Cathedral has defended its use of zero hours contracts, which were recently branded as "evil" by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. Pic: Victoria Jones/PA WireThe Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. Pic: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Justin Welby was critical of the so-called gig economy and zero-hours contracts, saying they were “nothing new” at the TUC Conference and adding: “It is the reincarnation of an ancient evil.”

But Norwich Cathedral is currently advertising for a zero hours post within its refectory.

The advert for a refectory assistant states it is a “casual zero hours post where we hope to build up a team of reliable people who can be rostered accordingly.”

They are looking for “an enthusiastic, self-motivated individual, with a demonstrable catering experience and excellent organisational and barista skills to join the refectory team.”

Advertised at a salary of £8.30 an hour, the terms and conditions state: “The nature of the employment is such that the hours of work will be at the Chapter’s discretion and will depend on the needs of the business.
“The Chapter does not guarantee to provide any minimum amount of work in any given week or month of the year.”

But The Dean of Norwich, the Very Revd Jane Hedges, defended the use of such contracts, saying they suited some members of staff who wanted flexibility, such as students and retired people.

She said: “At Norwich Cathedral zero hour contracts are given to those of our staff who choose them because it suits their lifestyle like, for example, students and people who are retired and want a flexible part-time job.

“We take the welfare and wellbeing of our staff very seriously.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury had also attacked companies such as Amazon for paying “almost nothing in taxes” and was critical of the government’s flagship welfare reform of Universal Credit.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman said he felt Justin Welby had gone too far with his comments. He tweeted: “I have huge respect for Justin Welby as a man and as a thoughtful and challenging leader.

“But I fear he’s ill advisedly crossed a line of political impartiality here.”

He added: “When he appears as a mouthpiece for a Marxist Labour Front bench he loses authority.”

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