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Changes in the Nature of Work: Part-Time, Flexi-Time, Banks of Workers


One of LALIT’s leading members who works in the health service spoke at the May Day gathering at Grand River North West about work becoming increasingly part-time, the introduction of so-called “flexi-time” and some employers organizing “banks” of employees. All this, she said, although often presented by the bosses as an advantage for you, the workers, contributes to making employment more precarious.

 Part-time work, for example, seems attractive, especially to women with young children, or to men who have some other interest that brings in a little revenue – until one realizes that some work conditions that you thought were acquired rights for all, no longer apply to you. Flexi-time, which was sold to us workers as an advantage to us – especially women workers – ends up being an advantage to the employers: when they need you, they call you in, when they don’t they don’t. And “banks” of nurses, for example, means that instead of the Ministry of Health taking on more nursing staff as it should, it relies on existing workers to do extra shifts without proper overtime conditions, thus causing work conditions to deteriorate. For example, at the end of your night shift, you can be called upon to do another shift all day, and then you may be working that same night. This means workers have been anbrigade to show how much other workers can supposedly work, if they weren’t so “lazy”. At the same time, retired nurses get called in – also from the “bank”, coming in only when there is a staff shortage. “Supply teachers” are used in the same way. Often they are used as child-minders, and they do not really replace the teachers from the point-of-view of pedagogy.

 These new forms of worker add to weakening the unions and the workers on the site, relative to the bosses. This means, while opposing it, we must also find a broad perhaps more political program, to unite workers. The LALIT campaign on “The Land Question” – as a way of uniting the working class in creating all kind of jobs linked to the land (and the sea), and for democratic control over housing for all (on the land), and food security – from land and sea.