Unions to campaign next on sick leave for casuals


Unions to campaign next on sick leave for casuals

The ACTU plans to campaign for sick leave for casual workers and against the trend towards a non-permanent workforce.


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The ACTU plans to campaign for sick leave for casual workers and against the trend towards a non-permanent workforce.

ACTU president Ged Kearney told a TV interview that the ACTU will launch (on 28 September) a campaign against the trend to insecure or casual, short-term, and contract-style labour.

‘This is causing a lot of problems for our economy, a lot of problems for workers and a lot of problems for workers’ budgets,’ she said.

‘And that is something that we will be addressing aggressively in the next couple of years, certainly leading up to the next election, and we will be looking for responses from all parties on our agenda and beyond, of course.

Security of income
‘What our members are telling us — and we recently completed a very large survey of union members — is that they want security of income.’

‘If you are in a casual job, you might get a certain amount of money this week, you might get no money next week. It makes it impossible to manage a budget, to get a mortgage, that sort of thing.’

‘The other thing they are telling us is that they would like sick leave. If you are in this type of job and you are sick, you get no pay, there is no surety of income there.’

‘They would like annual leave. Nearly four million Australians do not have access to annual leave or holiday pay. These are issues we are going to tackle.’

Kearney rejected business claims that the reforms in the Fair Work Act have returned the Australian workplace to ‘a more sclerotic condition’.

‘I just find this an absolutely astounding argument,’ she said.

‘There is no doubt that there is an issue with productivity in Australia. But none of the evidence points to the fact that it is due to our industrial relations legislation.’

‘In fact, our productivity started to fall dramatically under WorkChoices and under the Howard Government. There is no indication at all that the Fair Work Act or our legislation or, indeed, workers, are causing a downfall in productivity.’

‘What we do know about productivity problems is that it is related to investment, lack of investment in infrastructure, to poor management, to poor IT solutions, to poor communication. It has nothing to do with making workers work harder and work longer for less money.’

Unions must be ‘transparent’
Kearney admitted that the Health Services Union (HSU) allegations of misuse of union finances was ‘unfairly and unwarrantedly’ reflecting on the rest of the union movement.

She said unions must be open, transparent and accountable when it comes to the use of their members’ funds and that the ACTU supported the current investigations into the HSU matters.

Asked about a push by senior women executives for tax breaks for child home care or nannies Kearney said a lot of working find it very difficult to get care for children.

‘I think the issues are here that, first of all, we need to look after the interests of the women who work as nannies — make sure they are regulated, paid appropriately and that they are safe in workplaces.’

‘Any subsidies or rebates we give [should] go to people who truly need them, people who cannot afford it or are struggling to pay for childcare and [not] necessarily to the very, very wealthy who can afford to pay for home care.’
Campaign starts 28/09/11
At today’s launch of the Secure Jobs. Better Future campaign, workers in insecure jobs will share their experiences and leading academic researchers and representatives from the community sector will also speak.
The ACTU is also launching a report, ‘Insecure work, anxious lives’, which documents the growth of insecure jobs in Australia.
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