Photo: flickr/Matthias Ripp

Usually this roundup provides a sampling of the going-ons of organized labour across the country. But this week, there’s been a lot of media attention given to precarious workers — a growing group that’s often much harder to organize. They are all around us: from the grocery store aisles to the newsroom, job insecurity is becoming the new normal for low- and middle-income earners across all demographics. So here’s to the temp-agency-working, part-time, freelancing, contract folk. Sometimes you need the labour roundup love, too. 

  • A must-read for this week are three installments in a four-part series on precarious work in the Toronto Star. The Ontario government has embarked upon a major review of the province’s employment laws. This Changing Workplace Review involves a series of public consultations that aim to identify potential labour and employment law reforms. The Star series looks at many of the issues those reforms would hope to address, such as: the “Wild West” of irregular and unpredictable scheduling; the endless limbo that temporary workers face; and, a myriad of other legal loopholes that leave workers exposed to wrongful dismissals and other employment insecurities. Part 4 of the series, which is still forthcoming, will look at why holding bosses to account is harder than you might think. 
  • Released on Thursday, The Precarity Penalty study builds on previous research about precarious workers in the greater Toronto and Hamilton areas, proving that almost half of urban workers in southern Ontario are working with some degree of job insecurity, with major consequences to their health and well-being.
  • Another great series this week from the Globe and Mail looks at how those living paycheque-to-paycheque can get caught in cycles of debt with payday lenders. They also offer a series of alternatives to the predatory money marts, including CUPW’s proposed post office banking system.
  • But it’s not all doom and gloom. Learn how the Workers United GoodLife union drive is offering new techniques for organizing precarious workers in the fitness industry.
  • The Fight for a $15 dollar minimum wage is largely being organized by and for precarious workers. And it’s had a swell of success in recent months in both Canada and the U.S. This week both Los Angeles‘ city council and Alberta‘s Premier-elect Rachel Notley pledged to institute a $15 minimum wage in coming years.
  • And at the federal level, a new bill calling for a comprehensive national strategy to address the ills of precarious labour had its first reading in the House of Commons last week.
  • In more traditional labour-roundup fashion, two groups of unionized workers are hitting the picket lines this week:
  • Security company GardaWorld has locked out Unifor Local 4266 members in Ottawa, after contract negotiations fell apart on May 15.              
  • Halifax Water workers have been on strike since the beginning of this week, with pensions being the key issue that workers are fighting for.
  • Grocery store workers at Loblaws, Superstore, Zehrs, and Fortinos, organized with the United Food and Commercial Workers, are not yet on strike but have voted 97 per cent in favour of strike action. Negotiations resume next week.
  • And as strikes continue in some Ontario secondary schools districts, Premier Kathleen Wynne threatens to use back-to-work legislation.

Ella Bedard is’s labour intern and an associate editor at GUTS Canadian Feminist Magazine. She has written about labour issues for and the Halifax Media Co-op and is the co-producer of the radio documentary The Amelie: Canadian Refugee Policy and the Story of the 1987 Boat People.


Ella Bedard

Ella Bedard

Ella is a historian-come-journalist with fickle tastes and strong progressive principles. She has written about labour issues for and the Halifax Media Co-op and is the co-producer of the...