From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own. Carl Schurz

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Precariat : The Real Canadian Majority

We've known for some time now that precarious employment has been on the rise, now a new study from McMaster PEPSO and the United Way, It’s More than Poverty has quantified this trend, finding that half of the GTA and Hamilton toil in jobs that are considered precarious.

 When you also consider that many with jobs not defined as precarious live in fear of offshoring and layoffs it is not a stretch to say that the Precariat is now the largest social class in Canada.

 He’s a twenty-something with a university degree, working for a
government agency on contract through a temporary employment
agency. He does similar work to the other members of his team
and reports to the same boss. The difference is that they get
salaries, benefits, a collective agreement, and some measure of
job security. He is paid only an hourly wage.

She worked in the financial services industry for 20 years and
took a package offered during a corporate restructuring. Now
she works from home, for the same bank, on contract, as a
self-employed person with no benefits or job security.

He does heavy manual work for a manufacturing company for an
hourly wage. He is ‘on-call’ and does not know from one week to the
next how many hours he will be working. He and his wife find it very
difficult to manage the budget and juggle the child care. The work is
dangerous, but he doesn’t complain. He’s afraid of losing the work.

 How we got here is no mystery, decades of neo-liberal policies have led to this inevitable result, they always do and forever will. No the real mystery is that so many who have been harmed by these policies continue to support the purveyors of such.

Yes our media and political classes are completely enthralled with neo-liberalism but surely people can see its effects in real life even if they don't know it by name.

 Surely they can recognize it's offspring. Free trade deals that subjugate government to big business, tax cuts for the rich and the corporate sector, deregulation and privatization of public services plus bailouts for them, austerity for us. The list goes on and on and on......

We are told there is no alternative, that even though times are hard neo-liberalism is the only rational choice yet the evidence as

Ever since the crash of 2008 exposed the rotten core of a failed economic model, we've been told there are no viable alternatives. As Europe sinks deeper into austerity, governing parties of whatever stripe are routinely rejected by disillusioned voters – only to be replaced by others delivering more welfare cuts, privatisation and inequality.
So what should we make of a part of the world where governments have resolutely turned their back on that model, slashed poverty and inequality, taken back industries and resources from corporate control, massively expanded public services and democratic participation – and keep getting re-elected in fiercely contested elections?
That is what has been happening in Latin America for a decade. The latest political leader to underline the trend is the "radical economist" Rafael Correa, re-elected as president of Ecuador at the weekend with an increased 57% share of the vote, while Correa's party won an outright majority in parliament.


  1. After reading about the percentage of precariously employed people this morning, Kev, my wife and I got to talking about how democracy really does seem to be more of a sham than a reality these days, precisely because of the uncritical embrace of the neo-liberal policies you discuss here.

    1. I used to volunteer at an agency that primarily worked with immigrant and older unemployed workers, I was constantly surprised by how many supported these policies despite the fact that they had personally been victimized.

  2. Canada has become a cesspool of corruption. Especially since Harper's so called majority. Most Canadians do know, Harper cheated to win the election, with his robo-call scam. The robo-call cheat has now, leached into the Saskatchewan Tory's.

    Harper is giving Canada to Communist China. China has set up shop on our Canadian soil, at the dirty tar sands. He has permitted Red China, to bring over their own cheap labor. Chinese resource workers earn, $800 per month. China's minimum wage is, $236 per month. Harper has permitted all company's, to hire that cheap labor. Harper's Omnibull-S-Bill, permits Red China to sue any, Canadians getting in China's way. Harper is planning Red China, in the rich resources of the High Arctic. Don't plan on getting any of those jobs either.

    Communist China sued in BC, to take the mining jobs. There are nine new mines and mine expansions, going onto Northern BC. Wonder who will get those jobs?

    CSIS even warned of, Red China's huge inroads into Canada. BC was specifically mentioned. Campbell, Harper's favorite henchman, sold BC out to China long ago. However, no-one would listen to the people of BC.

    There is a Chinese who, is buying up cheap duplexes and repossessed houses. Those buildings are crammed full of, hotplates and bare furnishings. This is for, hordes of Chinese coming here to learn English. He ships them in, ships them out. He gets ready for the next batch coming over. Those mines will need many Chinese workers. So will all the oil industry jobs. China owns many company's in Canada.

    Needless to say. We will be overrun by Chinese. My son is an Engineer. I told him and his University chums to apply overseas, to a country that needs technology. There is no future for them in Canada. I told them with their huge student loans, they can't afford the $800 per month wages, Chinese resource make. They live free here. We don't.

    1. While China gets all the press this issue is much larger than that Harper is prepared to sell whatever he can of Canada to anyone with the coin.

      Just this past week it was revealed that an Ontario auto parts plant imported 50 workers from the Philippines as if there is a shortage of qualified out of work auto parts workers in Ontario.

      This type of behavior is typical of the neo-liberal agenda

  3. Canadian workers need to learn to organize. They need to learn to talk to each other, stop putting each other down and competing with each other. Most workers I have met think you get ahead by setting up a special relationship with the boss, being his shadow, thinking his thoughts and separating yourself from the regular riffraff.

    If workers trusted each other, they could set up their own businesses together. Why are temp agencies necessary for cleaning work? They even have agencies for babysitting! Apparently, the worker is so untrustworthy that the employer must be protected by an agency standing between. Workers could set up their own agencies, in theory anyway. If this working environment so favors business, then become a business. A group working together could be more effective than an individual.

    In reality, many workers treat each other like dirt in their eagerness to impress the boss perhaps. A class system is developing rapidly in Canada. Poor people are less likely to talk to each other than better off people. I noticed that in the YMCA - the basic membership people were not friendly, but the membership plus people wanted to find out all about me. Poor people seem to despise themselves and each other and can't even talk to each other, let alone work together. I suppose all this is most helpful to the ruling classes.

    1. Ahh you have stumbled on the genius of their plan Neoliberals have learned that in order to continue to exploit us the need us to be divided and at each others throats.

      And you're right that this needs to stop, people need to see who their true enemy is and it ain't the poor sap toiling beside you.