Migrant Worker Taskforce recommendations a welcome focus on exploitation, RCSA

The Australian peak body for recruitment and labour hire, RCSA, has welcomed recommendations from the Migrant Worker Taskforce designed to target and tackle worker exploitation.

RCSA CEO Charles Cameron contributed to the taskforce’s deliberations and said its recommendation to adopt a targeted national labour hire registration scheme demonstrates a deep understanding of exploitation issues and a genuine commitment to addressing them.

“RCSA has long been one of the strongest advocates for improving mechanisms to target and stamp out the cases of exploitation perpetrated by rogue elements of the labour hire sector in Australia,” he said.

“As representatives of an exceptional group of professional labour hire operators, we are sick of the enormous achievements of our industry - creating meaningful and rewarding work opportunities for hundreds of thousands of Australians - being tarred by the brush of this dodgy minority.”

Mr Cameron said a targeted approach was the key to ensuring limited resources were deployed where they would have most impact.

“RCSA is a strong advocate for a targeted approach to regulation and the establishment of a co-regulatory solution where the government licenses high risk sectors and promotes self-regulation in low risk sectors.

“The licensing approach adopted in Queensland and Victoria subjects the broadest possible elements of the sector to additional regulation. That approach however, spreads resources and focus wide and thin. The end result has been to essentially create a box ticking exercise for organisations already doing the right thing and doing very little to genuinely address exploitation.”

“Independent reviews have clearly identified industries where worker exploitation is more prevalent. We agree with the taskforce that targeting resources at enforcement and regulation in those sectors will have the greatest impact on exploitation.”

While he welcomed additional resources and measures to enforce existing workplace relations law, he cautioned that government needed to be careful that stronger sanctions and penalties suggested in some recommendations didn’t unintentionally catch honest errors in their nets.

“The regulatory environment governing workplace relations in Australia is extremely complex and can change rapidly. This is especially the case in industries such as horticulture where complex piece rate arrangements exist,” he said.

“Examples of businesses following a structured process and actively working to ensure they meet their obligations to workers, but still making honest errors around entitlements, are not uncommon.”

“While RCSA welcomes stronger legal deterrents and greater resources to enforce compliance with workplace laws, government will need to work extremely closely with industry around implementation of those recommendations in order to avoid concerning unintended consequences.”

“It’s all about balance. We need to ensure our labour market has the adaptability and flexibility to meet the demands of Australian business in a competitive global economy, while working to ensure that doesn’t come at the expense of migrant workers, who can be some of our most vulnerable.”

Media contact: Sarah Morgan + 61 421 664 969

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