Australian unions fight workforce casualisation

Australia's unions are calling on politicians to reverse the increasing trend towards workforce casualisation.

Australian unions have declared war against the casualisation of the country's workforce.

Sally McManus, secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), has indicated that fighting the rising trend of casualisation will be a key priority in 2018.

“There’s been more jobs, but they’ve been casual jobs. And growth? Well, we’ve seen profits grow but we haven’t seen wages grow. Wages are at a record low," she said to reporters recently.

"Employers are able to call people casuals - fake casuals - when they're not casuals," she reiterated on a separate occasion.

The ACTU has called for Australia's Fair Work Act legislation to specify a definition of casual work. It has also called for employees who have put in six months of regular with any one company to be given the option of converting to a full-time, permanent position.

However, Australia's Fair Work Commission already rejected similar proposals in July this year -- although it did grant casual workers in certain industries (such as retail and hospitality) the right to request part-time or full-time permanent employment if they work regular hours for 12 months. Employers can refuse to enact the conversion on certain reasonable grounds.

Meanwhile, the unions can expect a pushback from employers.

"Employers in a very large number of cases need the flexibility to employ people on a casual basis on a continuing basis," said Stephen Smith from the Australian Industry Group 

"Experience shows most casuals who are offered the option of converting (to permanent positions), the vast vast majority of them don't want to either because they want the flexibility or want to maintain casual loading," he added.


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