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2015-04-10

Unhappy NBN subcontractors

Insecure workers need better protections, say unions

Unions have highlighted the problems facing workers in insecure forms of employment in their submissions to the Productivity Commission’s review of workplace laws.

The growth of “insecure” work such as casual, labour hire and contract-based employment has transformed the Australian workforce over the last two decades.

Employers like to argue that this change has been a win-win result, offering both them and their employees greater “flexibility”.

But the reality is more often financial and personal uncertainty for those workers who have no guarantee of a regular income or regular hours of work and no protections such as sick leave, parental leave or workers’ compensation entitlements.

This situation is not only unfair to those in “insecure” work. It also undermines the position of those in permanent employment by offering employers a cheap alternative workforce.

In its submission the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) says that:

  • Independent contractors or freelancers should be given the same rights and protections as other employees, including the right to bargain collectively
  • Workplace laws should include a legal definition of a casual worker, prerequisites to hire a casual worker and the extension of minimum standards to casual workers
  • Labour hire or temporary workers should have the same rights as permanent employees.

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