Gigs, Hustles, & Temps

How precarious work lowers wages, makes Canadians poorer and deprives workers of rights- while it empowers and enriches big corporations

by Jason Foster

“Precarious work” contributes to rampant inequality, increased insecurity, and the crisis of public and mental health. “Gigs, Hustles, and Temps” explains why.

In this profoundly troubling and incisive look at the state of work and welfare in Canada, Jason Foster reveals the long, often-hidden process that has left our jobs less secure, our livelihoods more uncertain, and the pockets of Canada’s wealthy  fatter than ever. This phenomenon, the rise of “precarious work,” touches the entire economy and contributes to levels of income inequality unseen since the early 20th century. Our world is less secure than it has been in generations. Gigs, Hustles, and Temps describes how we got here, and why.

Jobs across the economy are increasingly more precarious, and they share similar characteristics: impermanence, little to no benefits, and no union representation. Uber, Starbucks and Amazon have led the way. Governments are contracting out more labour than ever before. Tech companies hire workers on “flexible” contracts without the prospect of long-term employment. Migrant workers, too, are working without a safety net, figuratively and literally. No matter where you fall on the socio-economic ladder, your life is probably more precarious than your parents’ once was.

Foster offers insights into the many consequences of our increasingly precarious world. He also details some of the less obvious repercussions of precarious work, including its contribution to the crisis of mental and public health across Canada.

Foster argues that the rise of precarious work is more a “return to normal” for capitalist economies. But there is a flip side: advances in worker welfare have come through solidarity, struggle, and negotiation with the forces currently promoting precarious work across Canada's economy. Things don’t have to be the way they are. Gigs, Hustles, and Temps is a comprehensive, accessible, and essential guidebook on the road to a better world.

About the Author

Jason Foster is a professor of human resources and labour relations at the University of Athabasca. He also serves as the director for the Parkland Institute, a research consortium of academics and advocates for a stronger public sector run out of the University of Alberta. Jason worked in the non-profit sector for years, as well as with the labour movement as the director of policy analysis at the Alberta Federation of Labour. With a wide public profile, Jason is actively engaged in the discourse around the state of work and welfare in Canada. He also serves as the president of the Canadian Industrial Relations Association. He works and lives in Edmonton, Alberta.

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