The work of folding slacks, swiping credit cards and stocking shelves was enough to keep Sears going in Canada as a profitable, dividend-paying and executive bonus-giving retailer for decades. Then management decided to pack it all in. Emperor Justinian, representing us at Davos, seems to think it’s all pretty much okay, including the company leaving behind a whopper of a deficit in its pension plan.
Trudeau suggests EI for Sears workers who risk losing pensions
Image: Mike Kalasnik via Flickr/CC
The precarity problem
Not surprising that a truly inescapable structural feature of the sprawl around us is now closely and directly associated with what this blog has been on about, and in a very public way. In all their brown brick glory Tim Hortons outlets are usually located with predictability, outside the malls anyway. Timmy H’s are most often found at a major intersection with commercial/industrial zoning nearby and a twelve pump gas station out front. Cars are everywhere, six for every last Dutchie it would seem. Lined up around the building and into the street sometimes, idling as their owners anticipate a hit of caffeine and sugar from the little sliding bay windows at the side. With lots of parking and cars grinding or flying by depending on the time of day we have never found these outlets pedestrian or bike friendly. They can be a challenge in a car.
There’s hostility inside the doors, too. The product is popular enough but we mean all the people working hard for too little money day and night. Like other corporate employers Tim’s has gotten riled up at having to pay living wages this month. Pathologically selfish franchisees and the rationalizers at corporate office are now stuck with the label of tip stealer, benefits gouger and paid break abolisher. How’s that for some great publicity? This pooh-sandwich is slick corporate talent in action?
A few pennies passed on to the customer would have avoided shareholder nightmare ka-ka like this: #boycottTimHortons
Timmy Ho’s you rock!
The combined weight of research, history, and economic expertise shows that giving low-wage workers a raise is a net positive
Tim Hortons controversy shows Canadians are ‘addicted to a low-wage economy,’ says author
Image: Corey Buffet via Flickr/CC
The Christmas shopping season and the expectations around next year’s increase to the minimum wage in Ontario brings our minds to the retail trade. If so many of our fellow citizens are going to work in that sector we should hope for it not to be stupid, exploitive and awful.
Retail jobs don’t need to be bad. Here’s proof
Living wages: explaining a growing movement
Stronger protections needed to fight erratic scheduling, advocates say. As the passage of Bill 148 nears completion, workers worry that a loophole in new protections will leave them vulnerable to unpredictable schedules
Walmart: too big to fail?
Sears demise is Nortel all over again for pensioners, says expert. Some 16,000 retirees face uncertain future as company seeks approval to begin liquidating assets
image: Mike Kalasnick via Flickr/CC
Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle meets Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed in today’s Toronto Star. The paper sent a writer to work at a large industrial bakery in Toronto recently. Her findings should shock us.
Wages are low. The pace is fast. Safety is a hit-and-miss affair in a profitable establishment making bread products for corporate clients. There has been loss of life at the plant where most of the workers are female newcomers. Their employer has received grants, loans and praise from the government. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board gives them rebates. Through their lawyer the owners say that safety is important.
Temps pick their wages up in cash at a payday lending office thirty-five minutes away by bus. Their employer drives a Bentley and lives in a mansion.
On Twitter alone, mentions of this feature have grown steadily all day. This feature deserves a wide audience and is exactly the kind of reportage the Star should be coming up with.
Temp agencies on rise as province seeks to protect vulnerable workers. Statistics obtained by the Star show a 20 per cent increase in temp agencies in Ontario over the past decade, with much of that growth driven by businesses registering in the Toronto area
image: Sonny Abesamis via Flickr/CC
Hemp-based materials and clean electric power. Some things from visions of the future now past we still wouldn’t mind getting our hands on. Either way, wasn’t general prosperity supposed to infuse the whole deal?
Tesla’s Fremont factory workers describe long hours, preventable injuries, and low pay
Economic systems tend to be somewhat stacked against young people from the start because they simply have had less time to accumulate things of value in those systems. With the so-called gig or sharing economy it is starting to look like a significant structural disadvantage to younger persons has begun to reveal itself. Many a young worker has education and tech savvy to contribute. Frustration is rising early on the occupational path as young workers with few options are often encounter the working conditions imposed by app-based and online employers.
“Sharing economy” or on-demand service economy?
A survey of workers and consumers in the Greater Toronto Area
Toronto’s ‘gig economy’ fueled by young workers starved for choice. A new survey by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives takes the first look at who is working through online platforms in the GTA
image: stavos via Flickr/CC