An increase in the casualisation of Australian jobs and more workers being forced onto individual contracts are the likely outcomes of the Federal Governments plans to change Australias workplace laws unions said today.

A special meeting of the ACTU Executive in Melbourne today discussed the likely impacts on workers of the extreme industrial relations policies of the Liberal Party in the wake of the Coalitions election win.

Speaking after the meeting ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:

The prospect of a Coalition-controlled Senate is extremely worrying for ten million working Australians.

Over the past eight years the Senate has played an important role to lessen the more extreme policies of the Liberal Party.

The Liberal Party has repeatedly tried to get rid of the award safety net and undermine the rights of Australian employees.

Now we are faced with a Senate that from July next year could simply be a rubber stamp for a radical experiment in industrial relations.

Australian working people should be very concerned about the impact of the Liberal Partys industrial relations policies.

In particular, the ACTU Executive is very worried that the Coalitions industrial policies will lead to an increasing casualisation of the workforce and worsening job insecurity as more people are pushed onto individual contracts.

Unions fear the award safety net of minimum wages and conditions will also be threatened by Coalition control of the Senate.

This will lead to a proliferation of low paid and casual jobs.

Official ABS data already shows there are strong trends in this direction since the Coalition Government was first elected in 1996:


  • Of the 440,000 net new full time employee jobs created since 1996 more than 50% have been casual and overall there are now more than 2.2 million casual workers.

  • The workforce grew by just over 400,000 new jobs from 2000 to 2003 but nearly two thirds (64.8%) of these new jobs pay less than $600 a week.

  • Almost a million Australians now work unpaid overtime an increase of 24% since 1996.

    With the prospect of increased uncertainty in the workplace many unions will seek to protect existing wages and conditions.

    Unions will also focus on communicating with union members and workers in the workplace to ensure they are informed about the likely impact of the Liberal Partys agenda.

    Unions are concerned that the greatest impact of the coalitions policies is likely to be felt by those workers who do not have a strong union to protect their interests and rights.

    Rather than create uncertainty and conflict in the workplace the Government should focus on addressing skill shortages that are a hand-break on the Australian economy.

    A recent survey of business investors by employer group ACCI found skill shortages are the number one issue constraining economic growth. Resistance to workplace changes was second last in the list of investment constraints.

    You dont improve peoples skills by making peoples jobs casual and taking away their basic rights in the workplace – but that is exactly what the Federal Government is proposing to do.


    For further information Download: ‘Low pay, casualisation & work till you drop -Australian workforce trends 1996-2004’.