Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Research: Casinos and captive labour markets

The journal Labour/Le Travail recently published a very interesting case study about the experiences of workers at Casino Windsor. You can read the full text of the article here.

Casinos are often mooted as tools of economic diversification, providing relatively high-waged service industry jobs. This was a part of the back story of the opening of Casino Windsor and, initially, the casino did provide good jobs, particularly to women. Over time, though, economic pressure resulted in declining working conditions.

The workers at the casino faced labour immobility due to high unemployment and the absence of comparable wages elsewhere. This dynamic essentially creates a captive labour market, argues author Alissa Mazar, where the workers are stuck in their job. The employer knows this and uses aggressive disciplining to pressurize workers to perform.

Few options and fear of job loss has meant workers have internalizing the need to provide high quality customer service, despite poor treatment. Essentially, they exert discretionary effort in the hope that it will keep their livelihood intact and the employer uses this extra effort to reduce labour costs.

Mazar’s case study raises numerous questions about the value of casinos as economic engines, particularly when the state constraints the number of casinos and thus creates a captive labour force for the employer.

-- Bob Barnetson

No comments: