Australian unions will today launch a major national campaign to address the spread of casual, contract and other forms of insecure work in Australian workplaces.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said about 40% of the workforce was in insecure jobs and the number is growing.

“Fewer and fewer Australians have the security of a permanent job,” Ms Kearney said.

“Casual jobs, short-term contracts, labour hire and other forms of insecure work prevent people from properly planning for their future or managing their household. Insecure workers have no rights to paid sick or annual leave, no certainty about their income or whether they will have a job next week, and no career path or sense of belonging to a workplace.

“A casual job may suit some workers. But it’s really tough on many working families who have less certain incomes, rising fixed household costs and the shouldering of more and more household debt and are trying to plan for the future.

“Given the strength of the Australian economy and decades of sustained economic growth, there is no justification for why the proportion of the workforce with insecure jobs is so high.

“Insecure workers have told us they want a job they can rely on. This campaign will speak up for this large, often disenfranchised sector of the workforce and work towards change for the better.”

The Secure Jobs. Better Future campaign is to be launched at an event in Sydney today, where workers in insecure jobs will share their experiences and hear from leading academic researchers and representatives from the community sector. The ACTU is also launching a report, Insecure work, anxious lives, which documents the growth of insecure jobs in Australia.

Ms Kearney said this would be a multi-layered campaign involving workers in every industry across Australia. As the first step, Australians will be asked to join the campaign for secure work at

“Unions are already campaigning in their own industries to improve job security, but today we are beginning a national conversation with workers, with civil society, with government and with business to find effective solutions to the spread of insecure work across the workforce,” Ms Kearney said.

“Insecure work is about employers creating a way to shift costs from employers onto workers, and it is spreading into sectors that were once seen as havens for permanent and secure jobs, like education, manufacturing and construction.

“People can spend years in an insecure job, with unpredictable hours and volatile income, and with fewer entitlements, because this work suits the boss. But workers want a job they can rely on. And you can’t rely on insecure work.”

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