Tuesday, September 04, 2007

No Boom For Canadian Workers

What Time Is It?

Time For the Four Hour Day.

Employees burn while the economy booms With Canada's unemployment rate hovering at its lowest level in 30 years, you'd think all would be harmonious in the labour market. But while more of us are working, a new study from the Canadian Policy Research Networks shows many of us aren't happy with the quality of our jobs. Despite the current economic boom, real wages have increased only slightly since 1980. And it's also becoming more difficult to balance work and home life.One in five Canadians are dissatisfied in that regard, a 20 percent increase from 1990 to 2001.Working overtime is part of that equation. Almost a quarter of those questioned reported working overtime, and about half of that extra work was uncompensated. Teachers lead the way in unpaid overtime, at 34 percent. And work schedules are problematic as well. Both long work weeks and short work weeks are on the rise, meaning some workers have no time, while others are always strapped for cash.

Only one in three Canadians is ”very satisfied” at work and the country will face difficulties attracting new workers, according to a study published on Monday.

“It should be of concern that only about one-third of all workers are very satisfied with their jobs and that fewer than one in five employees are very positive about multiple dimensions of job quality,” the Canadian Policy Research Network said in its report.

“The report provides solid Canadian evidence that the nature of a job and the environment in which people work are critical to achieving employee satisfaction,” the report’s author Graham Lowe wrote.

What workers want: It's time to raise the bar

My research for a Canadian Policy Research Networks report, "21st Century Job Quality: Achieving What Canadians Want," examined dozens of job-quality measures to reach this conclusion. The biggest change since the early 1990s has been a 45-per-cent decline in unemployment. However, the hiring binge has not increased the proportion of full-time, continuing jobs.

Precarious employment persists. While more people work shorter weeks, the longer work week (more than 40 hours) has increased. Employers have been slow to adopt or offer flexible hours and schedules, something workers of all generations want. Information technology, and growing concern for the environment, should make telecommuting an easy move, but if this happens at all, it usually involves unpaid overtime on evenings and weekends. Basic benefits are being cut back, notably employer pension plans and supplementary medical insurance.


Productivity and Wages

$63.90 Per Hour

The End Of The Leisure Society

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