The Growth of Jobs Without Rights and Security is Increasing in Canada
October 7 is International Day of Action on Precarious Work
Over the past two years, self-employment has expanded more than twice as fast as paid private-sector employment. Part-time work has expanded more than twice as fast as full-time work.
The International Metalworkers' Federation defines it as follows:
"Precarious work is a bad employment epidemic, where employers transfer their business risk onto their workers. Many workers have no option but to accept short-term contracts. Others are forced into bogus self-employment – treated as independent contractors, but in reality dependent on one employer. Some are casuals or day labourers, hoping each day to get work."
During this period, the number of jobs paid by private-sector employers rose by only 2.3% while the number of self-employed positions increased by 5.5%. Full-time employment rose 3.0% as part-time employment jumped 6.9%.
Even during this period of supposedly tight labour markets, the number of full-time jobs paid by employers failed to keep pace with the growth of Canada's workforce. As a result, much of this growth has been channeled into self-employment and/or part-time jobs.
An international study of labour standards released on August 27, 2008, by McGill University's Institute for Health and Social Policy revealed that "policies in many Canadian provinces sometimes fall far short of those in dozens of other nations when it comes to support for such basic things as maternity leave, annual paid vacations, sick leave and work breaks."
What Can I Do About Precarious Work in Canada?
Canadians can combat the epidemic of precarious work by getting involved in unions and in politics. Unions can make work less precarious by negotiating limits on the employer's ability to contract out employment.
We must convince governments to remove barriers that prevent many workers from joining unions. For example, unions should be allowed to represent any workplace in which a majority of employees choose to sign union cards.
Governments must also strengthen labour standards to provide basic protections for all workers, whether or not they are unionized. In particular, the federal government should reintroduce a national minimum wage. Provincial governments should immediately raise their minimum wages to at least $10 per hour and commit to regularly increase this amount at least as much as inflation. Labour legislation should require adequate numbers of work breaks, paid vacation days and statutory holidays.
For more information go to the International Metalworkers' Federation website at www.imfmetal.org