Australia is a global pacesetter in the creation of various forms of insecure employment, leaving only 60% of the workforce in standard, secure work according to a new report from the ACTU, Australia’s insecure work crisis: Fixing it for the future.
Australia has the third-highest rate of non-standard forms of work in the OECD. We are rapidly heading towards the complete Americanisation of our workforce unless we change direction.
Around forty percent of all workers have fallen into insecure work, are part-time or on short-term contracts, are employed through a labour hire firm, the new “gig economy” or as supposedly ‘independent’ contractors.
These forms of work are often used by employers to avoid their legal obligations to their employees. A full time, standard employee can expect all the leave entitlements, superannuation contributions and workplace protections that the union movement has fought for over centuries.
A labour-hire worker, or someone on a short-term contract, has little bargaining power and takes enormous risk standing up for better rights as well as having less rights than other workers in the first place.
Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:
“The level of insecure work we have in Australia is not normal. It is far worse than most OECD countries and it has got much worse over just one generation. Insecure work is the biggest issue facing Australian workers. It runs through everything. When you are not secure in your job, you have less rights, greater stress. It affects your everyday life and that of your family. This has to change.
“Insecurity disproportionately affects women and is entrenching the gender pay gap. “Insecure work is now destroying the workplace rights of generations of workers.
“There are sensible, straightforward changes to our workplace laws that will reverse this trend.
“We have a simple decision to make, do we want the next generation to never know what it is like to have a paid holiday or do we think they deserve the same or better rights their parents and grand parents enjoyed?”