AMWU pushing for reform of labour hire industry

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The AMWU will this week tell the Victorian Inquiry into the Labour Hire Industry, which is being held in Melbourne, that the sector requires more regulation to protect workers’ rights.

The AMWU is pushing for portable long service leave and a government compliance unit to police labour hire operators, who should be required to pay an annual fee and a bond to ensure they abide by a proposed code of conduct.

“The AMWU calls on the Inquiry and State Government to use this opportunity to take a real step forward for thousands of working people who suffer from constant uncertainty,” said AMWU Victorian Assistant Secretary Craig Kelly.

However, the union’s push has been opposed by the Australian Industry Group (AiGroup), the main industry group which represents the labour hire industry.

In his opening statement to the Inquiry, AiGroup Head of National Workplace Relations Policy, Stephen Smith said, “It is important that the Inquiry keep the interests of both labour hire companies and users of labour hire foremost in mind during the Inquiry. Neither group can afford to lose existing flexibility.”

He added that there is no need for any significant regulatory changes relating to labour hire, casual employment or independent contractors.

“The small minority of businesses which are not doing the right thing should be addressed through increased compliance and enforcement activities, and better education, not through taking away much needed flexibility for employers and workers, or imposing unfair or unbalanced laws on everyone,” he said.

As the Guardian reports, Victorian Trades Hall Council helped collect 618 submissions for the inquiry. 55% of workers who made a submission reported they could not speak up about their pay and conditions without risking their jobs. And 86% of those workers said they did not feel confident about the future of their job or income.