CAW Builds International Links to Fight Precarious Work

October 6, 2011, 5:30 PM EST

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Billed as a lead up to World Day for Decent Work,  the Canadian Auto Workers union recently hosted two "Good Jobs. Bad Jobs" round tables with visiting union delegations from Denmark and South Africa.

With almost 40 per cent workers in Canada now in non-standard employment including temporary, contract and part-time jobs, there is a new urgency to develop our analysis and cross-border strategies.

On September 8, 2010 the round table hosted guests from the United Federation of Danish Workers (3F). On September 27, Canadian activists shared experiences with guests from the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA).

Delegates from NUMSA and 3F strategized with representatives of the CAW and other Canadian unions, action centre coordinators, researchers, and community activists who are engaged in the fight against precarious work.

The round tables highlighted the striking similarities between the three very different economies of Canada, Denmark and South Africa. We heard examples from all three countries of the escalating use of temporary help agencies and labour brokers and the super-exploitation of vulnerable migrant workers, as governments shift away from traditional immigration.

Discussions also focused on the power corporations are wielding to pressure governments to allow unrestricted access to these precarious work arrangements, further eroding the standard employer-employee relationship.

The roundtables underscored the systemic nature of the global rise in precarious employment and, at the same time, allowed for international solidarity to be made more concrete.  These were also opportunities to build stronger links with community organizations that work with non-unionized workers.

The round tables featured a number of presentations on:

  • Systemic Racism and Precarious Work, by Deena Ladd of the Workers' Action Centre
  • A Snapshot of Precarious Work in Canada, by Angelo DiCaro, CAW Communications
  • Labour in the Global Economy, by Armine Yalnizyan, Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Migrant workers in Canada, by Justicia for Migrant Workers' Chris Ramsaroop
  • Precarious work in South Africa  by NUMSA General Secretary Irvin Jim
  • IQT - the runaway employer  by IQT Action Centre Co-ordinator, Shannon Jacquier

View the presentations here.

The 2011 round tables are part of the CAW's continuing campaign against precarious work:

  • A first round table on Oct. 7, 2009 and brochure on precarious work
  • Adoption of a resolution "Precarious Work Affects Us All" at the CAW Council meeting in December 2009
  • Development of a  Precarious Work Workshop that has been presented in a number of communities
  • Bargaining initiatives to curtail the expansion of precarious work
  • A study with researchers at McMaster University to track a group of laid-off CAW members and their challenges in finding retraining and secure, decent jobs
  • A precarious work module delivered during working hours as part of our workplace training program for all CAW members at GM, Ford and Chrysler.

Find more information on the CAW webpage on precarious work here.

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