INDUSTRIAL LAWS NOT PROTECTING VULNERABLE WORKERS

4 Sep 2018

Labor is warning that current industrial relations laws are not protecting the most vulnerable Australian workers, and the Government must take action, ahead of today’s Senate inquiry hearings into contract cleaners in Melbourne.

 

BRENDAN O’CONNOR MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT AND WORKPLACE RELATIONS
MEMBER FOR GORTON

 

SENATOR THE HON DOUG CAMERON
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR SKILLS, TAFE AND APPRENTICESHIPS
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
 
INDUSTRIAL LAWS NOT PROTECTING VULNERABLE WORKERS
 

 

Labor is warning that current industrial relations laws are not protecting the most vulnerable Australian workers, and the Government must take action, ahead of today’s Senate inquiry hearings into contract cleaners in Melbourne.
 
The Senate inquiry into some of Australia’s lowest paid and most exploited workers follows a damning Fair Work Ombudsman’s report into employment practices at large retail chains.

The FWO’s investigation focussed on Tasmanian retailers and found that 90 per cent of Woolworths’ stores were in breach of industrial awards.
 
The inquiry is examining instances of contractors working for large retailers setting up multiple sham subcontracting companies to hide their non-compliance with workplace laws and awards.
 
Shadow Minister for Employment, Brendan O’Connor said Scott Morrison and his Liberals should put workers first for once and they could start by tightening the test for sham contracting. 
 
“Time and time again, the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has been exposed for its failure to address exploitation and insecure work. The Government should adopt Labor’s policy to amend the law to clamp down on sham contracting arrangements,” Mr O’Connor said.

Senator Cameron said underpayments and sham contracting arrangements identified by the inquiry were also contributing to stagnating wage growth throughout Australia.
 
“This is an example of profitable companies outsourcing fundamental aspects of their operations and then denying any responsibility for the workers being exploited,” Senator Cameron said.
 
“On the evidence to the inquiry so far, it is clear that the industrial laws are not strong enough to protect these vulnerable workers.”
 
Senator Cameron said a disproportionate number of retail cleaners were migrants (more than 50 per cent) and often had their visa status threatened if they complained about wages and conditions.

“The fact that these workers are being ripped off for the little they earn is disgraceful,” Senator Cameron said.
 
There is a very simple solution to all this – big retailers should employ their cleaners directly.
 
The Government’s inaction is disgraceful. They should join with and take a stand against sham independent contracting, where underpayment is rampant and employment rights and conditions are being ripped away. 

 TUESDAY, 4 SEPTEMBER 2018

Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.