Work should be a source of satisfaction and meaning. For too many, however, it has become insecure, stressful and underpaid. Recent analysis by the Nevin Economic Research Institute found that 20% of workers under 30 are now on temporary contracts – a rise of almost 40% since 2004. Part time work has also risen by more than a quarter, with 51% of this cohort unable to find full time employment.35
A report by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) details similar findings, with 7% of the workforce in temporary employment, 8% working different hours every week and 10% defined as self-employed without employees. This latter category is code for bogus self-employment contracts that shift workers off traditional contracts that guarantee better terms and conditions.36
This level of precariousness makes it hard to plan for the future. It is also linked to falling wages and worsening conditions as workers find it more difficult to organise and resist. In 1960, two thirds of all output went to workers in the form of wages, but by 2015 this had fallen to just 44%.37
The fall in the Irish wage share over a 20-year period from 1995-2015 was the second highest from 37 countries surveyed with only Romania recording a greater decline.38 Some of this is driven by tax dodging corporations, but neoliberal market reforms have also helped to hold down wages.