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Progress at ILO on precarious work

27 February, 2015IndustriALL took part in a tripartite Meeting of Experts on Non-Standard Forms of Employment which has agreed conclusions to significantly strengthen the ILO’s responses to precarious work

Meeting in Geneva at ILO headquarters on 16-19 February, a Committee of Experts representing employers, governments and workers debated how the ILO should respond to the threats to workers’ rights brought about by the expansion of precarious work.

The discussion was informed by a report prepared by the ILO which paints a very familiar picture. It shows how precarious work has proliferated in recent years, particularly in lower-skilled occupations, and that women and young workers are disproportionately affected.

The report highlights the problems arising when precarious work is an involuntary choice. Europe and the US both have high rates of involuntary part-time work and in the UK four fifths of all fixed-term workers are either on probation or cannot find a permanent job. In Greece, Portugal and Spain this figure rises to over 90 per cent of temporary workers. The ILO report shows that precarious work is not necessarily a stepping stone to permanent work. In fact, as temporary work increases, temporary workers are more likely to remain precariously employed and are up to ten times more likely to fall into unemployment than permanent workers.

The ILO confirmed what unions already know: that precarious workers earn less than permanent workers, have inadequate social security coverage, face penalties when it comes to training opportunities and suffer higher accident rates. Their employment status means that they face difficulties in exercising their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

The full report can be read here

The Meeting of Experts recommended that the ILO continue to work to improve data collection and reporting on precarious work. It should also:

  • Promote the better use of international standards in relation to precarious work
  • Analyse where there are gaps in the standards and evaluate the need for new ones
  • Examine and address barriers to precarious workers exercising their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining
  • Look at how collective bargaining can contribute to decent working conditions
  • Support labour inspection and access by precarious workers to the legal system
  • Look at how social security can be extended to precarious workers
  • Document trends and create a repository of information on precarious work and innovative practices on how to ensure protection of precarious workers.

Importantly, the recommendations also called for future Meetings of Experts on temporary employment and on discrimination on the basis of employment status, opening up the possibility for future international labour standards to be developed in these two areas.

These recommendations will next be presented to the ILO Governing Body for their approval.