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AltAusterity Digest #72 November 1-7, 2018

This week in Austerity News:

Nov 09, 2018

A study published last week by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) has found that more than half of all faculty appointments in Canada are contract positions. In 2016-17, 38,681 appointments, or 53.6% of all faculty appointments were contract positions, while tenured and tenure-track jobs accounted for 33,490 positions. Among the contract positions, nearly 80% were part-time. Significant variation was also discovered based on province, faculty and individual university preference. The researchers conclude that while funding cuts to universities certainly contribute to the rise of a precarious workforce in the university, the variation in the usage of contract faculty points to choices made by administrators. The overall use of contract faculty also points to a larger structural issue with modern labour markets.

A UN special investigator is launching an inquiry into the consequences of austerity cuts on poverty in the UK. Philip Alston is the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. In the coming weeks he will be touring some of the UK’s most impoverished areas, meeting MPs, government officials, academics and families affected by the cuts. Among the policies studies, Alston will be looking to gather evidence on the universal credit, welfare changes, local council cuts, and rising living costs. Alston’s tour will take him through London, Bristol, Cardiff, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast and Jaywick Sands. His inquiry will determine whether Tory government policies breach international human rights standards, to which the UK is a signatory.

The Irish Times discusses how international finance and diplomacy have interacted with household immiseration in Greece. Despite being in the post-bailout phase, Greece is unlike to recover from their decade long economic crisis. This has led to increasingly explicit messages from both the EU and the IMF that their prescriptions for Greece have made the domestic crisis worse, rather than better. Despite these admissions, Greece’s recovery still depends on creating budget surpluses in a context where reduced incomes and tax revenues have all been drastically compromised.

Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro announced this week that he would like to get a bill to cut pension spending passed in the legislature this year. Other items on the agenda include an “overhaul” of the country’s social security system and measures that would grant the central bank formal independence. These pro-business reforms caused investors to pursue Brazilian assets with the stock exchange closing at an all-time high on Monday. While Bolsanaro will soon hold the executive branch, his PSL party only has 52 of 513 seats in the lower house. The opposition Workers’ Party still holds the majority in the Chamber of Deputies.

That's it for this week's Digest! Check back next Friday morning for another edition, or subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly roundup. We'll also Tweet each time we add new content, so you can keep up with our work @AltAusterity and join the #altausterity conversation!