Worldwide, billions of workers suffer from precarious working conditions. They work, but lack decent jobs, security, protection and rights.
The precariousness of work arrangements is heterogeneous and multifaceted depending on the country, region, and the economic and social structure of the political systems and labour markets. The scope and different forms are ever expanding, as some employers are always trying to circumvent regulations or to find loopholes in regulations in order to increase the profitability of their business at the expense of their employees.
While informal employment is obviously precarious, this is also true for many forms of formal employment including sub-contracting. In many countries laws forbid workers employed through a third party from joining unions of permanent workers. So while the “user enterprise” determines the pay and conditions under which these workers are employed (not the agency/contractor), the workers cannot join a union of permanent workers. Furthermore, although workers may in principle be able to join the union of permanent workers, they are excluded from the bargaining unit, and thus denied the right to bargain collectively with the real employer. Systems of “temporary” and/or indirect employment have been deliberately constructed in order to deny workers effective access to their right to bargain with the real employer who organizes the system of production/services and in practice, if not de jure, determines their terms and conditions of employment. Membership in a union of permanent, direct employees cannot be denied to those who work under the managerial authority of the user enterprise in question but whose employment relationship is disguised.
Precarity results in growing uncertainty, insecurity, and vulnerability of individual workers, and deprives people of the stability required to take long-term decisions and plan their lives, as well as engage in collective action as trade unionists and as citizens in a democratic society. It therefore has a major impact on the character of our societies and the quality of life in our communities and societies at large.
This page is part of the follow-up to the International Workers' Symposium on Policies and Regulations to Combat Precarious Emplyoment (Geneva, 4-7 October 2011). In the following you find a documentation of the symposium and information on Precarious Work and: