||Issue No. 182||13 June 2003|
The Dead Couple
History: Nest of Traitors
Interview: A Nation of Hope
Unions: National Focus
Safety: The Shocking Truth
Tribute: A Comrade Departed
History: Working Bees
Education: The Big Picture
International: Static Labour
Economics: Budget And Fudge It
Technology: Google and Campaigning
Review: Secretary With A Difference
Poetry: The Minimale
Satire: Howard Calls for Senate to be Replaced by Clap-O-Meter
The Locker Room
Unions to End Casual Affair
Legal triggers for casuals to win permanency, a new Work Family Test case and tax incentives for the low-paid are key planks in the platform ACTU secretary Greg Combet will take to this year’s ACTU Congress.
Combet outlined the agenda while releasing 'The Future of Work' at conference in Sydney this week, a study by the University of Sydney's acirrt charting the 'fragmentation' of the Australian workforce.
"The key message from this research is that the benefits of economic growth have not been shared fairly," Combet said.
"The fact is that Australia's economic prosperity in recent years has been built on the back of inequality and the intensification of work. Economic risk has been shifted directly onto employees through casualisation, contracting and agency employment arrangements."
Combet committed the ACTU to articulating a core set of values based on fairness to counter the Howard Government's deferral to competition and market forces.
These values would underpin four policy initiatives:
- a new minimum award standard giving casual workers the right to become permanent after six months services. Such as standard would include protections against employers shedding casuals approaching the threshold.
- a Work and Family Test Case, to be lodged in the AIRC in the next fortnight, extending unpaid maternity leave from one to two years and enshrine a right to negotiate for flexible working hours.
- improving living standards for low income households through the use of tax credits
- And enshrining collective bargaining rights in legislation, consistent with Australia's international obligations under the ILO Conventions.
"These reforms are not about unions turning back the clock," Combet says. "What we want are better standards that get better outcomes for working people who have seen their secure disappear in recent years."
Lead researcher John Buchanan told the conference a striking statistic was that one seven per cent of workers now worked the standard Monday to Friday, nine to five working week.
Buchanan's research paints a bleak portrait of job security - and the attitudes of workers towards those changes.
Key trends highlighted in the report include:
- increasing wage inequality - with most income earners experiencing a real decrease in wages in the 1990s.
- increases in work intensification, with workers across a range of industries reporting they no longer have the time to do their jobs properly
- and a massive shift to casual employment, more than half of whom have been in the same job more than one year.
Buchanan advocated broader initiatives than the ACTU is currently suggesting including providing leave entitlements to all workers, regardless of their formal employment status.
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