The social impact of seasonal employment in Devon and Cornwall
This thesis reports on a study of seasonal employment in the tourist industry of Devon and Cornwall. The study is based upon official data, employer interviews and interviews with seasonal workers in eight organisations during the Su7n r of 1983. In the Summer months, the tourist industry is of considerable importance in the area both from a general economic point of view as well as a provider of employment. The real benefit of seasonal employment is, however, questioned sirce such large groups of people are left without work during the Winter months. Furthermore, working conditions for seasonal workers are poor from all points of view: working time, pay, training opportunities, Job security and promotion possibilities. High unemployment in the labour market and the personal characteristics of the sample makes for difficulties in obtaining more permanent work. Low expectations, aspirations and self-confidence towards work thus reflect a realistic attitude within this group, mostly working seasonally on a regular basis. Working conditions, prospects and the personal characteristics of the workers suggest that seasonal workers are firmly in a secondary position in the labour market. The sample suggests seasonal work more often being undertaken by women and that there are skews towards the younger and older age groups. The relatively high skill level of the sample indicates discrimination on the basis of ascriptive characteristics. Personal resources and the lack of worker collectives provide few opportunities for change. This is made more serious through seasonal work being largely hidden in statistics and unregistered by official agencies. Generally employment legislation and statutory rights are made with either the permanent worker or the fully unemployed in mind. For employers, this situation provides for a malleable, cheaý and flexible labour force that can be tapped- and untapped at will. Although working conditions are not necessarily better during an economic boom, recession ensures that the labour reserve willing to work under such conditions is large. With continued recession, the incentives for cost-conscious employers to make use of cheap and flexible labour through casual or temporary employment may increase in a range of employment situations such as education, home-working and sub-contracting. Both public policy suggestions and employer incentives encourage such a trend. Although there are problems with generalising too widely from the data here, some effects of temporary or casual work contracts would apply universally. The study has taken a small step towards identifying such effects.