CAW study finds laid-off workers can't find 'decent jobs'

A study tracking a group of laid off manufacturing workers in Ontario shows they continue to struggle to find what the report calls "decent jobs."

Report tracked 260 laid-off manufacturing workers from three plants

CAW national president Ken Lewenza said the report proves not all jobs are created equal. (CAW)

A study tracking a group of laid off manufacturing workers in Ontario shows some continue to struggle to find what the report calls "decent jobs."

The final phase of the CAW's Worker Adjustment Tracking Study released Thursday shows some laid off workers are forced into lower-quality and more precarious jobs, including temp agency work, with a significant reduction in pay following the loss of full-time employment in the manufacturing sector.

The study tracked the long-term experiences of 260 workers laid-off from three manufacturing plants. The plants are Collins & Aikman in Scarborough, which closed in October, 2007; Kitchener Frame in Kitchener, which closed in April 2009; and the elimination of the third shift of Chrysler's Brampton assembly plant in March 2008.

While the majority of workers from Collins & Aikman and Kitchener Frame are currently working, most are earning significantly lower wages and incomes, fewer or no benefits with greater income and employment instability.

According to the report, a majority of workers from the locations have experienced wage reductions of 20 per cent or more.

Most workers participating from the Chrysler location have returned to their jobs. Most are still concerned about job security, the report found.

"This study provides pretty clear evidence to contradict the notion that all jobs are created equal," CAW national president Ken Lewenza.

"There's a problem in our economy when the jobs being created don't provide stability; when they fuel insecurity and when they make people less healthy. This is exactly the track we're heading down and there are huge negative implications for Canadians as a result," Lewenza said.

Approximately 40 per cent of those tracked for the study said they had trouble paying off their debts.

"Many workers, including those currently employed report a financial debt legacy associated with their layoffs that continues,'' the report said. "This includes ongoing repayment of loans from family and friends, credit card debt, depleted savings and retirement funds, and financial losses associated with the sale of family assets such as homes and vehicles.''

The study also found that workplace action centres continue to be a useful point of contact and support for laid off workers.

The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities sponsored action centers deliver services and interventions that both enhance re-employment prospects and support laid-off workers and their families during a difficult period of transition.

Workers reporting high use of action centre services are overall the most likely to report a more positive adjustment to the impact of job loss.

"What's clear from these study results is that hands-on transitional supports, like workplace actions centres, increase the chances of job market success," Lewenza said. "When workers have one-on-one job search and retraining supports, they do better. If they're left to fend for themselves, they're worse off. If policy-makers can take something away from these results today, it's that adjustment services are a vital lifeline for workers and have to be kept up."

Other study highlights include:

  • Over 1 in 5 reported being without income for longer than one year.
  • 31 per cent reported their general health has deteriorated as a result of layoff.
  • 48 per cent reported they had done without something they needed in order to pay the rent or mortgage.
  • Nearly 60 per cent of those who completed job retraining programs found related employment.