Green Gold: The Forest Industry in British Columbia

By Patricia Marchak | Go to book overview

5
Class and Human Capital

Who are the people that provide the labour for the resource industries? Are they a random collection of workers who just happened to settle in resourceindustry towns? Are they, as some writers suggest, a particularly transient and unstable population? Are they a labour force essentially created by employers with the aid of the educational system for the purpose of providing a replacement for their parents and a reserve supply of labour for capital?

The majority of residents in single-industry resource towns are manual workers. A few independent professionals in medicine and law, a few independent business owners in retail and service trades, and a few technical and professional workers attached to government services and education are the exceptions in most such towns. The major employers generally have their head offices in metropolitan centres, so that the proportion of total jobs which are managerial, professional, and technical in content is small.

As well, high levels of unemployment are “normal” for this labour force. Workers in the forest industry and in other industries in resource towns frequently are awaiting call-ups by employers who have laid them off for temporary periods or are seeking new jobs. Some portion of the labour force is transient: temporarily employed, not anticipating full-time, permanent employment. A substantial proportion of families in most resource towns moves out in any year, replaced by new families who, similarly, will stay a year or a few years and then move on.

How best do we explain these phenomena? Are the workers characterized in some way that would explain their transience? Is it they who promote the transience, or is it the nature of the resource economy and the particular employment conditions available to workers? This and the next several chapters are concerned with examining the personal characteristics and the

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Green Gold: The Forest Industry in British Columbia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Preface xv
  • Acknowledgments xix
  • Part One- Capital xxi
  • 1- A Staples Economy 1
  • 2- History of a Resource Industry 29
  • 3- "Partners with Industry" 55
  • 4- The Structure of the Industry 82
  • Part Two- Labour 113
  • 5- Class and Human Capital 115
  • 6- Markets, Technology, and Employment 156
  • 7- Patterns of Employment and Unemployment 181
  • 8- Employment Conditions for Women in Resource Towns 213
  • 9- Job Control, Security, and Satisfaction 249
  • 10- Job Control and Ideology 269
  • Part Three- Communities 301
  • 11- The Instant Town 303
  • 12- At the End of the Forest 323
  • 13- Policies for Change 348
  • Appendix A- Methodology and Samples 381
  • Appendix B- Tables Accompanying Chapter 9- Job Control, Security, and Satisfaction 389
  • Appendix C- Tables Accompanying Chapter 10- Ideology 399
  • Bibliography 416
  • Index 437
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