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LABRST 1C03 (126)

Lecture - The Rise of Precarious Labour - 2014-03-21

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Labour Studies
Sandra Colavecchia

The Rise of Precarious Labour • defining precarity o key aspects o range of precarity o vs. standard employment relationship – has continuity and stability in the long-term (regular hours, job security, benefits); precarious labour is the opposite of this o employer commitments – in standard employment relationship you see greater commitment to the worker by the employer; given assurances that seem to be there for a lot of the workers (obvious ones like pay, benefits, but also other commitments (skills development, training, professional development)); these are signs of a sense of commitment by the employer to the worker to make them feel part of the team (or an asset in the company); and employer sees investing in this work positive for the business; when employers see their employees as assets it is because they see an upside to making employees happy (because more productive); this attitude was prevalent during the golden age and is still around now; Facebook, Apple, Google, etc build their places to make their workers happy so they are productive; technical work usually still done by young guys so people design their offices to be like little man caves; LAST 30 years these commitments are going down in a lot of industries (this is a growing part of business culture --> long term commitments is not something that workers should expect); time factor: if employer makes big contributions to pension plan (sign of long-term commitment) o flexibility – employers want flexible workers; workers that can adjust to employers needs; flexibility in terms of how much they will work as well (when times are slow --> don't want workers around); increasing level were some employers are flexible on how work is being done (ex/ results only --> form of flexibility that appeals to workers); most flexibility leaves employees who need to be flexible; sounds better??; overtime system has changed as a result because workers are supposed to work flexible (no longer pay overtime after 9 hours because workers are expected to be flexible) • historical perspective – immigrant and unskilled workers have had a reality that is not precarious (reality for these people was a day-to-day struggle to survive); this strategizing and struggle to survive was very prominent so precarity was not new; before WWII precarity was more structured in the economy than it is now because so much work was seasonal (for this reason reality was that during winter a slow season would start) o pre world war II o golden age – standard employment relationship became more used (that's why such a good time); offered more job security (sense that they could plan a little in the long-term because of this); other things that reduced precarity (increased regulations of what employers can do, and unions) also made it more used; golden age is unusual because many trades + jobs that were previously precarious are not anymore (biggest example is manufacturing (unskilled in particular); reality is before it was a really bad job, after though the standard employment relationship became the norm) o neo-liberal age - what marks the neo liberal age is when more of this employment relationship is prominent and becomes the norm; role of temp agencies is important (used to be small and limited) but as neo liberalism became more used; role of temp agencies to provide this type of work (secretarial, administrative work done through temp agencies); increases this use of temporary work but employer expectations as they can just take labour as a contract in and out whenever they please; changes business attitudes; also important: rise of precarious and temp agencies spread in places they didn't used to be (more places with higher level of education is being done by precarious workers); expansion of this type of work since the recession (precarious --> due to loss of jobs?) • beyond the statistics – precarious work is important when talking of general state of employers during this time; stats usually mask how difficult things are; for example: unemployment (it was not increasing); precarious workers speaks to not whether you have a job but what kind of job you have; also speaks to the security, benefits, pensions (whether you will have this security in the future etc); what will show up in stats makes it seem like they lived great, what did not show is the hardships of the jobs to keep their employers happy, hard to plan vacations, save for retirement, etc (and working through illness) The Rise of Precarious Labour – 2 (Impacts of Precarious Workers On Different Levels) • Job satisfaction – job satisfaction (data is weak on this often) but it tends to go down when workers in a precarious working situation; if employer isn't committed to you, it is hard to feel satisfaction in your job and have the willingness to work; control of the work: some level of control where you can use your experience and knowledge (in precarious situati
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