CAW Highlights Rising Tide of Precarious Jobs During World Day for Decent Work

October 7, 2009, 10:42 AM EST

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A growing number of Canadians are finding work in jobs that are considered precarious and that provide less than a decent standard of living as employers continue to eliminate or outsource hundreds of thousands of full-time jobs, said CAW President Ken Lewenza.

Precarious work is a term widely used to characterize jobs in the labour market filled on a temporary, contract, part-time or an impermanent basis. These jobs generally offer workers below average wages, few (if any benefits), and limited protections under labour laws.

Lewenza's comments are being echoed by labour union leaders around the world today as the international labour movement celebrates the World Day for Decent Work (WDDW), a day devoted to highlighting the need for good jobs that enable individuals to meet their basic needs and that promote freedom, equity, security and human dignity.

Precarious jobs in Canada have grown since the 1970s and have accelerated over the last decade. In 2008, more than one-third (36 per cent) of Canadian workers were considered employed in precarious jobs.

Since the start of the economic crisis, Canada has shed 485,000 full time jobs while gaining nearly 100,000 part time jobs over the same time period. Most recent job market figures released by Statistics Canada for August showed that over 27,000 net jobs were created over the course of the month, the lion's share of which were part-time. 

The trend toward more precarious work is an issue that has become increasingly important to Canadian workers during the recent global economic recession.

"Precarious jobs are steadily becoming the norm rather than the exception in Canada," Lewenza said. "This is a dangerous trend that will continue to have severe impacts on workers, their families, communities as well as Canada's social services."

"So many of our country's social support mechanisms are tied to our jobs and the number of hours we work. Workers' access to pensions, unemployment insurance, child care, health benefits, parental benefits and others are all impacted by our work arrangement."

As part of the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF) week of action against precarious work, and the World Day for Decent Work, the CAW is holding a round table discussion today in downtown Toronto with invited labour activists, researchers, community advocates and others dealing with the issue of precariousness. The round table will be used as an opportunity to develop a set of common demands and objectives for an ongoing campaign.


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