Ictu: Precarious work now pervasive across economy

Nearly 160,000 people have significant variations in their hours of work

 Patricia King, general secretary Irish Congress of Trade Unions, aid the report confirmed there was now “an urgent necessity” for Government to address the problem.  Photograph: Eric Luke

Patricia King, general secretary Irish Congress of Trade Unions, aid the report confirmed there was now “an urgent necessity” for Government to address the problem. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Precarious and insecure work is now “pervasive” across the economy and has risen significantly since 2008, a new report drawn up by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) has found.

The report maintains nearly 160,000 people – or 8 per cent of the workforce in the Republic of Ireland – have significant variations in their hours of work, from week to week or month to month.

It says some 7 per cent of the workforce – about 135,000 people – were in temporary employment in 2016.

Ictu says there has been a “a dramatic rise” of 34 per cent in the category of “part-time, self -employed without employees”, since 2008. It says this increase “ is indicative of significant growth in bogus or false self-employment”.

In Northern Ireland, the Ictu report maintains, 6 per cent of the workforce is employed in temporary, non-permanent arrangements.

It says in addition, 11.4 per cent of the workforce in Northern Ireland is self-employed without employees, an increase of 1.6 percent as a share of the labour force over the period 2008 to 2016 .

Insecure

The Ictu report defines precarious work as employment which is insecure, uncertain or unpredictable from the worker’s point of view.

The report argues that, while in the aftermath of the recession, employment numbers have risen, so too has the incidence of precarious employment.

It says while overall employment numbers have increased, the numbers in permanent full-time employment are still 109,000 lower than the figure for 2008.

The report says that over half of that number maintained they were in temporary employment because they could not find permanent work – a 179 per cent increase on the 2008 figure.

“Our report shows that precarious work is pervasive throughout both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. What is more, there appears to be an increase in the use of precarious work over recent years. Interlinked with the spread of insecurity, has been the growth in involuntary temporary and involuntary part-time employment, with the proportion of the workforce who are seeking permanency and additional working hours rising significantly.”

“Moreover, substantial number of workers are in jobs whose hours vary on a week to week or month-to-month basis.”

‘Urgent’

Ictu general secretary Patricia King said the report confirmed there was now “an urgent necessity” for Government to address the problem of precarious work decisively through legislation, once and for all.

“As the study clearly illustrates the impact of precarious work extends well beyond the workplace and its unchallenged growth raises profound questions as to the type of society we wish to live in.”

“Very specifically, we must see changes to the legislation proposed by Government that will ensure the elimination of zero-hour contracts, guarantee the right to a minimum number of working hours and provide workers with a clear written statement of their terms and conditions from day one,” Ms King said.

Ictu said its findings revealed that female and young workers were more likely to be employed on precarious or insecure terms, with workers in the distribution, hotels/catering, retail and construction sectors featuring prominently, along with public administration, health and education.