A job is one thing, a secure job is so much better
As we enjoy the summer break this year many of us will beholidaying with friends and family, sharing Christmas lunch with our loved ones or finally opening those books we haven’t found time to read throughout the work year. But there are many workers who will have a very different Christmas experience this year.
Will Dai, a member of the National Union of Workers, works as a pick and packer in the warehouse industry but hasn’t had work in weeks.
He says he just wants a fulltime job but all he can get is casual work through labour hire agencies. Will is living off savings that will only last two more months.
Will says he wants a job that feels secure, but in his world a labour hire agency sends a text on the weekend if he has any work the next week.
He says it’s a nervous wait, hoping to get that text. Casual workers like Will are more likely to spend the summer worrying about how they will pay their rent than being able to take a family holiday.
While we often hear words like flexibility or freedom used to describe the benefits of casual work, what is rarely mentioned is the impact insecure work has on people.
On our sons and daughters, our siblings, our friends and their families. Eighty per cent of casual workers surveyed by the NUW said they would prefer permanent work. For them casual work is stressful, it makes it tough to pay bills and support families.
The dramatic rise in casual employment in Australia is now also beginning to affect permanent employees. We are seeing more and more instances of employers contracting out their entire workforce to third party logistics companies leading to a reduction in pay and conditions for workers who perform the same work.
Permanent workers at some NUW sites have told us they have safety fears for casual and permanent workers alike when labour hire casuals are just expected to step into a position without adequate training.
With up to 40% of all workers now engaged in insecure work with few rights, there is a clear trend emerging and the legitimate rights of all workers are now being challenged.
Traditionally our union has organised amongst permanent full-time workers. We have been slow to represent casual workers and understand the threats that their lack of work rights poses to permanent employees. That’s why we launched our campaign, Jobs You Can Count On.
We have spent much of our time this past year working on this campaign and working on uniting casual and permanent workers across hundreds of our sites to support each other’s right to safe and secure work.
This Holiday, think about Australia’s casual workers who don’t have the opportunity to take part in this year’s festive season. William Dai has a simple wish, a secure job he can count on.
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