Precarious work

The concept of precarity has emerged in recent years as a useful description of daily life under neo-liberal globalization, as well as a potential banner for uniting various movements in the fight against it. This issue of Briarpatch dives into the shallow end of the labour pool to investigate the increasingly precarious nature of work in Canada, and highlights a number of sites of struggle where workers are beginning to challenge this growing precarity.

  • Magazine

    The Deserter’s Tale: The story of an ordinary soldier who walked away from the war in Iraq

    Book review of The Deserter’s Tale: The story of an ordinary soldier who walked away from the war in Iraq

  • Magazine

    Workplaces that Work: A Guide to Conflict Management in Union and Non-Union Work Environments

    Book review of Workplaces that Work: A Guide to Conflict Management in Union and Non-Union Work Environments

  • Magazine

    Seizing the advantage

    In a landmark ruling on June 8 of this year, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms constitutionally protects collective bargaining as part of its guarantee of freedom of association.
    One group that has long been struggling against the denial of its freedom of association rights is Ontario’s part-time college workers—and our struggle could serve as a model for other workers in similar circumstances.

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    ‘Each day of our lives is dedicated to surviving’

    The province of Québec is in the midst of a major swing to the right, as the results of the March 2007 provincial election indicate. The centre-right Liberals of Jean Charest managed to hold on to power with a minority government, and the right-wing Action Démocratique du Québec (ADQ) made significant gains to form the official opposition. While student, labour, and environmental groups are bracing themselves for the anticipated cutbacks, welfare recipients—already reeling from more than a decade of frozen benefits—are wondering how much harder they can be squeezed.

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    Out of their labours

    “These photos were taken on farms in southern Ontario, as well as in Mexico, in the home villages of the workers. The portraits provide an intimate glimpse into the lives of people who are the backbone of Canada’s agricultural industry, and yet whose faces go largely unseen.”
    —Adam Perry

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    Building ‘The World’s Most Flexible Workforce’

    Since coming to power, the Harper Conservatives have moved aggressively to expand Canada’s Foreign Worker Program, making it increasingly easy for employers to import workers from abroad. In this first segment of our special report on Canada’s invisible workforce, Karl Flecker investigates the impact on workplace rights in Canada, and how the labour movement is responding.

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    Working for a ban

    Over 40 countries have banned the use of asbestos—a known and dangerous carcinogen. So why does Canada continue to oppose a ban? And where does the labour movement stand on the question?

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    Bikes without borders

    What connects singer/songwriter Fred Eaglesmith, a rape crisis centre in Brantford, Ontario, and an anti-poverty group in nearby Port Dover? They’ve all come together to help ensure the safety of migrant farm workers on Canadian roads. Perhaps an odd combination for social justice work, but it seems to be working.

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    Letter from the editor

    Sometimes a term comes along that enables us to name—-to make visible—-our situation, to better understand the social and economic forces that shape our choices, and to connect various struggles within a broader tapestry of social change. Precarity is perhaps such a term.

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    Voices from the front lines

    As part of an ongoing project, Making the Links Radio is conducting interviews and producing radio shows focused on immigrant communities in Canada. From these conversations, we bring you glimpses of three important sites of struggle against the exploitation and marginalization of (im)migrant groups in Canada: the Philippine Women Centres, the Workers’ Action Centre, and Justicia for Migrant Workers.

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    Free trade’s refugees

    Former farmers driven north in search of work have found that the rules governing the free flow of capital don’t apply to them—indeed, that crossing borders has never been more difficult.

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    Enough to live on

    Precarious work is on the rise in Canada. Although the quantity of jobs has increased, often dramatically, during recent years of economic boom, there has also been a strong tendency for full-time, relatively well-paid jobs with benefits and security of tenure to be replaced by part-time, short-term, insecure jobs that pay low wages and provide no employment-related benefits. As a result, the level of economic insecurity of most individuals and households in Canada has increased significantly over the last several years.