Shadow Minister horrified by Gladstone workers' stories
HONEST and frank discussions with a small group of hi-vis workers and unionists will help form Australian Labor's reform of industrial laws to claw back control of labour hire practices.
Stories of labour hire workers fearing their job security, and getting paid less than workers employed directly by the employer, were heard at a round table meeting in Gladstone yesterday with Labor's workplace relations spokeswoman Lisa Chesters and the Labor candidate for Flynn, Zac Beers.
Ms Chesters, the fifth Labor politician to visit Gladstone since Mr Beers' endorsement last month, said she was horrified at what workers said was happening in Gladstone.
As part of a regional tour introducing a new website where workers can share their labour hire horror stories, Ms Chester said reform was desperately needed.
"Today I've heard from Gladstone workers that during large amounts of redundancies multinationals have rehired workers shortly after through labour hire," she said.
Ms Chesters suggested a change to the law to allow labour hire workers to argue unfair dismissal through the Fair Work Commission, as part of a slew of new rules to tackle the "scourge of unfair" practices.
"Labour hire arrangements are complex and as we learned today there are different ways companies use them," she said.
"We need a reform package that is genuine, supports people and encourages productivity."
Mr Beers said the labour hire practices had a broader impact on the community's sporting and not-for profit groups.
He also worried for younger workers who felt their only job prospects were through labour hire.
"We're seeing a significant downturn in a range of community and sporting areas because of precarious employment, workers are afraid they'll hurt themselves and not be able to go to work or miss a phone call and not learn about a shift," he said.
The most recent ABS data showed there were 23,500 labour hire workers in Queensland.
Workers can share their labour hire stories, anonymously if needed, on the new Australian Labor Party website.