Earlier this month, when the Canadian job numbers for January were released, there was a lot of congratulating from all levels of government about the unexpected increase in the number of private sector jobs created in the first month of 2017. In all 48,000 people got new jobs, but what wasn’t discussed as much was that less than a third of them got good paying full-time work, and this has been a trend for a long time now.
Of course, many of the people that are particularly concerned about the rise in precarious, contract and part time work are members of labour unions, so it’s only fitting that they take the lead in trying to stem the tide. It’s also fitting that the local lead be taken by the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1334 since they’re presently involved in negotiating a new contract with the University of Guelph. One of the primary issues being dealt with in negotiations: the outsourcing of maintenance and trade jobs to contracted labour like temp agencies who get neither the protection nor the benefits of full university employment.
Laura Maclure, the chief steward of CUPE 1334, has already been a strong voice on the matter on campus, and she’s now taking the message into the greater community. She’s helping to organize a town hall on precarious labour, a growing segment of the work force that’s being forced to scramble for lower wages and little job security across all sectors of the job market, even public employers like the U of G. A recent report from McMaster University and the United Way said that 52 per cent of people in the Greater Toronto Area are in temporary, contract, or part-time positions.
So what are we do about this? Is this the new normal, or have we just decided that is? Is it possible there’s a good side to this trend, and why is the public sector going along it if their workers are organizing against it? We’ll cover all that ground with Laura Maclure as we get into this week’s Guelph Politicast.
If you’re interested in going to the Precarious Work town hall, it’s on Wednesday March 1 at 7 pm at the Italian Canadian Club at 135 Ferguson St in Guelph. If you want more information, you can go to the town hall’s Facebook page here. Also, stay tuned for updates from the negotiations between the U of G and CUPE 1334.
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