RCSA CEO Charles Cameron said he was surprised and exasperated by the recent launch of an Australian Labour Party website, which he claims is “no more than an extension of the ACTU’s baseless multi-million dollar anti-labour hire campaign.”
“At best, the website highlights a surprising lack of understanding about the labour hire sector,” Cameron said. “At worse, it demonstrates a complete disregard for facts in the claims and case studies it uses to push its agenda.”
Charles said not only did the website make the type of sweeping statements not supported in evidence, seen recently in the ACTU’s campaign, but the case study it used to highlight an example of “unfair labour hire” is something that Labor’s own State-based licensing schemes will fail capture.
“RCSA and its members have long campaigned for mechanisms to identify and stamp out illegal behaviour and worker exploitation in both the labour hire and broader employment sectors,” Cameron said.
“The (ALP) website and the campaign against the labour hire sector does nothing to help achieve that aim.
“Even worse - the ‘broad, but narrow’ approach of Labor governments to new licensing regimes for the labour hire sector in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria means the schemes will fail to capture the very behaviour identified by the ALP in its own web case study,” he said.
“Sadly, the ALP’s rhetoric fails to match its action in relation to worker exploitation by rogue operators and it leaves us questioning the real motivation behind this attack on the labour hire sector.”
The specific example used by the ALP highlights illegal behaviour, which occurred across a range of different work structures including a large number of independent contracting arrangements.
No new laws or regulation was necessary to address the behaviour; it is illegal under existing federal laws irrespective of the arrangements under which those workers were employed.
Moreover, in this specific instance, it was a labour hire operator who, following the investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman, has worked closely with Baiada to secure a supply of lawful labour to meet the demands of its hugely variable and cyclical labour needs.
Labour hire workers are paid award or site rates, they are paid regularly, super and tax is covered and they have a safe system of work.
“RCSA represents a large number of labour hire businesses,” Cameron said. “Our members are proud of how they help jobseekers find work when others won’t give them a go. They are proud of how they assist working mothers with flexible work options so they can balance caring with earning.
“They are proud of how they help growing Australian businesses take a risk and create opportunities that grow our economy. Our industry needs confidence and stability, not fear and misinformation.”
To support industry and supply chain leadership, RCSA has established StaffSure, an externally audited certification program that makes it easy for businesses and governments to find and partner with reputable workforce services providers in Australia and New Zealand. It allows consumers of services to make informed choices about the quality and legitimacy of labour hire firms and workforce contractors.
“Suggestions that sector-specific regulation is required to address being paid too little, being easily fired or to address ‘dodgy firms’ engaging in ‘unscrupulous behaviour’ are nonsense,’ Cameron said. “Federal laws exist to prohibit worker exploitation and illegal behavior. They apply to all forms of employment.
“Moreover, claims that the labour hire sector is driving a job security crisis have no basis in fact. In fact, evidence shows a decline in the proportion of people who expect to lose their jobs due to business closures, downsizing or seasonal/temporary work finishing. Since the early 1980s, the proportion of workers in long duration jobs (10yrs +) has increased and the proportion of workers in short duration jobs (less than 12mths) has decreased.
“The labour hire sector accounts for less than two per cent of people employed in Australia and this has decreased slightly as a proportion of the Australian workforce over the past 20 years.
“I know the ACTU is actively throwing the industry under a bus in an attempt to boost its declining numbers, but it’s particularly disappointing that a party purporting to be an alternate government is willing to do the same,” Cameron said.
“It is important for Labor to stay focused on resolving the issue of exploitation in the workforce as opposed to getting side -tracked into addressing any challenge the labour hire sector may present to union organising models.”