Rise of insecure work has led to less safe workplaces, says union

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The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) said that casual, contract and labour hire workers are less likely to fight for their right to have a safe workplace.

According to ACTU, the rise of insecure work in Australia over the past decades has made workers less able to speak up for their rights and has made workplaces less safe.

Speaking at the annual United Mineworkers Federation Memorial Day at Cessnock, ACTU President Ged Kearney said that a constantly changing workplace often meant that safe systems of work were not fully implemented and casual, contract and labour hire workers were less likely to speak up because of fear of job loss.

“The creeping rise of insecure work is a threat to mine safety,” said Ms Kearney. “I am talking about labour hire, casualisation and contracting out, along with fly-in/fly-out or drive-in/drive-out.

“A lasting safety culture cannot be created with a mobile, temporary workforce. And it is well known that a lack of job security makes it more difficult for people to speak up for their rights, particularly about occupational health and safety. Industry studies point to a link between a lack of safety in mines and the growth of contract employment in the industry.

“Contractors are increasingly favoured by some mining companies over permanent employees because they are cheaper and many contractors are not union-oriented and are less likely to raise safety concerns. Safety standards for some contractors have been found to be lower than other workers, as they received less training and induction.”

ACTU says about 40 percent of the Australian workforce is engaged in insecure work. A recent inquiry chaired by former Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe found much evidence that insecure work resulted to less safe workplaces.


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