Thursday, 22 December 2016

The pitfalls of casualisation & corporate greed.

 When you are 16 living at home and working casual it is probably ok. Being a casual, with a family a mortgage or trying to break into the housing market is an absolute nightmare.
Not knowing if you are working from one day to the next. Being let go at the whim of the management. Being bullied to work overtime under threat of being replaced. Living life like you are a plane in a holding pattern. Being forced to provide medical certificates even though you don't get paid for sick days. Being bullied in ways that breach OHS laws yet not being able to complain because your position is so vulnerable. Flexibility is a one-way street & it isn't favourable to the employee.

Earlier this year while investigating this issue from the inside. I witnessed a large group of casual labour hire employees effectively laid off because the labour hires contract had expired. You would think that a profitable firm like SRG would negotiate a new contract that catered for existing workers at the existing rate of pay. They didn't they used it as an excuse to change firms and put all workers back to award rates. People were bullied to sign up with the new contractor. They refuse point blank to say if the workers pay would be the same. One manager actually said it would in a meeting which I'm sure if grilled he would deny today. How do I know this? I asked him the question. Many of the workers at this site had been labour hire casuals for up to 5 years. They were losing 3-4 dollars an hour to do the same job the next day. Now while this is slightly different to the issue with #CUB55 it is still a disgrace. These people generally weren't union members predominantly through fear of losing their jobs or a lack of understanding of how our industrial relations system works and the protections it affords workers. It is interesting that SRG had recently renegotiated their EBA. The EBA has a clause in it for company casuals, yet they ignore that clause & utilise casual labour-hire workers. The reason I mention that is EBA's, are meant to be under our laws negotiated in good faith. If you have no intention of honouring a clause then are you in breach of good faith bargaining?

Irrespective of that casuals are locked out of the housing market unless they are already in it. They cannot get housing loans due to the precarious nature of their employment. They are generally forced to rent which puts pressure on them to do excessive amounts of overtime to meet their obligations and live. It is a very ordinary way to live for extended periods. No holidays no sick leave & no prospect of a permanent job. SRG hadn't hired a full-time worker at this site for over 4 years.