Labor backs our push to Change the Rules
The coming federal election is an opportunity to winfairer work arrangements and more secure jobs.
The rules that control our workplaces and job conditions operate well for big business. Profits are booming and executive bonuses are at all-time highs. But for working people, the rules are broken.
Company profits have grown more than five times faster than wages since the middle of 2016, Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show.
While wages struggle to keep pace with inflation, too many people are forced to depend on casual and insecure jobs.
Years of legislative changes have stripped the union movement of the ability to effectively represent members and win bigger pay rises.
The union movement’s Change the Rules campaign aims to give workers more rights to obtain secure jobs and fair pay rises.
The Labor Party has backed important parts of the Change the Rules agenda.
Labor says if it wins government at the next election it will stop employees being forced into casual work if the job is not genuinely casual.
Under a Labor government, if someone has worked regularly as a casual for over 12 months, they will get the right to convert to permanent work if they wish to do so.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten says Labor will change the Fair Work Act so that employers must pay labour hire workers the same as direct employees.
He says employers often use labour hire firms purely as a means to pay workers less, or to deprive them of conditions and security.
“Our policy is based on a simple principle: if you are doing the same job, you should get the same pay,” he says.
Many employers have been telling workers they must get an ABN and set up their own business to do what was once a permanent job.
Labor has committed to stop employers forcing people to get ABNs so they can be paid less than the legal minimum.
It has also promised tougher action against employers who engage in “wage theft” – deliberately underpaying workers and refusing to pay mandatory superannuation.
Bill Shorten says a Labor government will legislate to fine employers three times the amount they steal from their workers.
The ACTU has welcomed the promise, saying wage theft is now so common that in some places it’s the business model.
“There are business owners all over Australia getting rich by stealing from their staff and the current industrial laws make it far too easy,” says ACTU Secretary Sally McManus.
How the gig economy impacts on wages
$14.62 What an Australian UberX driver earns on average per hour
$18.29 The statutory minimum wage per hour
$30.00 The award pay for workers in the sector when weighted for penalties.
In addition, drivers miss out on other protections and entitlements such as superannuation, workers compensation and leave entitlements.
Source: Centre for Future Work, Australia Institute
Where the parties stand on Changing the Rules
- Will stop employees being forced into casual work. Employers will no longer be able to call someone a casual if the job is not genuinely casual.
- Will give people the right to convert to permanent work – with the rights that go along with it – if they have worked regularly for over 12 months.
- Employers will have to pay labour hire workers no less than permanent workers.
- Labor will require employers to prove they cannot hire local workers before the government issues temporary work visas. Temporary migrant workers will get Australian market wages and employment rights.
- Support the ACTU’s Change the Rules campaign.
- Introduced legislation into parliament to give casual and rolling contract workers the power to convert to secure employment.
- Introduced legislation into parliament to give people the right to work fewer hours if they want.
- Support the restoration of the right to take industrial action, consistent with international law.
Liberal National Coalition
- Defends the reduction of Sunday and public holiday penalty rates.
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison describes Labor’s plans to raise wages as “economic vandalism” that would cost jobs.
- Jobs Minister Kelly O’Dwyer says wage growth must be sustainable and the path to prosperity is lower taxes. “This is why we pursue lower taxation, more investment in infrastructure and more free-trade agreements,” she said.