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 Seumas Milne points out proves the opposite.
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.
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.
Repudiating the neo-liberalist agenda and once again embracing social democracy can and does achieve results. We were fools in falling for the neo-liberal con job and even bigger ones for continuing to do so.