MORE JOBS FOR WOMEN IS NOT GOOD NEWS. Sophie Webb explains why in her new study A Deal with the Devil: An analysis of the feminization of labour, the rise of the precariat and the effects of contract work on Canadians—the latest research sponsored by the Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights and the Canadian Labour Institute for Social and Economic Fairness.
Webb begins with the fact women make up nearly half (47.7%) of the Canadian workforce—more than ever before. But, she points out this is bad news for women and for the rest of us too. The reason? Almost all the work women are now getting is “percarious” (low waged and temporary). Worse, this reality is fast becoming the new normal for all work.
Webb argues this is because our political leaders made a deal with the devil of neo-liberalism: a shell game economic policy that is supposed to magically create prosperity for all, while it deliberately destroys income security for all.
Webb builds her case against neoliberalism by laying out the basics of the feminization of labour in Canada and how it fits into the creation of the “gig economy” and the rise of “the precariat”—millions of workers marooned in a world of low income and temporary work.
The perils of the 'gig economy'
From this base she argues: “it is imperative to examine Canadian neoliberal labour policies to understand where the “gig economy” came from, where it is going and why working-class Canadians must remain vigilant.”
She divides her study into three major themes: an overview of temporary work and precarity; the class differences and distinctions that exist between and among precarious workers; and an examination of the employers’ rationale for contracts, necessary for workers to understand exactly what they are up against.
Webb concludes: “The feminization of labour has changed the workplace drastically, and the continual stratifying of workers into categories of feminine and masculine, skilled and not, temporary and permanent, has allowed pre-existing gaps of inequality to widen. To ignore ever-increasing inequality is economically unsustainable and socially unjust.
“The fact that most people’s experience of labour has changed for the worse does not have to mean that precarity becomes the rule.”
Her study adds support to everyone working to make sure it doesn’t.
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