Check out this very interesting short documentary news story about the growth of precarious work in Britain–which mirrors our own experience in Canada in the past 15 years or so.
At the centre of the story is Professor Guy Standing of Bath University, and his new book The Precariat. An important point Guy makes is that the shift away from decent, secure jobs is a result of deliberate HR strategy supported by governments that believed a cheaper, “more flexible” workforce was key to attracting investment and saving jobs. Not surprisingly, the result has been the deterioration of the middle class, a growing army of under-employed workers and working poor, and a funnelling of wealth produced by this precarious work force to fewer and fewer executives and shareholders at the top of the income pyramid. This is the same point being made by the Occupy movement around the world.
For HR students:
Since HRM claims to be the mechanism that can protect worker interests (thus, unions and government regulation are unnecessary), what responsibility does the HR profession have to halt this shift away from secure and decent paying jobs towards precarious, low pay, flexible employment that serves employer bottom line, but creates an army of poor and vulnerable workers?
Should the HRM profession be calling for less use of employment agencies and for more full-time jobs with benefits?
Or is the HRM profession’s job to promote whatever forms of employment allow the employer to maximize its profits and remain ‘flexible’?
Here is another clip of Professor Standing discussing his book.