Mar 20, 2012

The perils of casual work: the world is not their roster

The ongoing casualisation of Australia's workforce may finally become a major issue at next year's federal election, writes Ava Hubble, a freelance writer and journalist.

The ongoing casualisation of Australia’s workforce may finally become a major issue at next year’s federal election. The Independent Inquiry into Insecure Work, chaired by a former deputy prime minister in Brian Howe, concludes its nationwide public hearings in Melbourne on Thursday. Hundreds of written submissions have already been filed by individuals, unions, academics and religious and other community organisations, including the Australian Council of Social Services.

The ACTU, which commissioned the inquiry, reports that about 40% of Australia’s workforce of almost 12 million is employed on a casual or contract basis. Consequently, many are well aware of the consequences of being left off a roster for the next shift or semester.

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3 thoughts on “The perils of casual work: the world is not their roster

  1. The Pav

    There is a real and genuine need for “casuals’ in the workforce but it has & is being wilfully abused by employers.

    Given Abbott’s hostility to the workforce and his crawing to big
    business the Gov’t should use this as a point of difference.

    A casuals cannot borrow this suppresses demand and
    reduces employment.

    This should be made to be Abbotts'”Workchoice” doom

  2. billie

    Is the egregious use of casualisation most prevalent in female employment, and is it most prevalent in Victoria, as a lasting legacy of the Kennett government.

    I am familiar with casualised nursing and teaching workforces. One major private hospital used to staff their wards with 100% casual nurses hired at start of shift once bed numbers were known, and it was very apparent to the patients and their visitors. Then we have all heard the stories of one casual minding a nursing home of bed ridden patients on a Sunday evening. That casual eventually wrecks their back lifting patients on and off toilets

  3. John Richardson

    How sobering to read Ava Hubble’s analysis, highlighting the ongoing destruction of fundamental & historically hard-won rights of employment protection for upwards of 40% of the Australian workforce.

    Indeed, Hubble’s analysis stands in stark relief to the often glib & superficial observations made by Crikey luminaries, such as Bernard Keane & Glenn Dyer, when they periodically offer us their ruminations on the latest “pea & thimble trick” employment statistics, highlighting as it does the real underlying disease infecting our labour market: ‘underemployment’.

    Of course, we are not witnessing the creation of a new ‘underclass’ in Australia: it’s already well & truly established. That its creation over the past decade or so almost passed unnoticed is probably testament to the absolute powerlessness of this group (a majority of whom are women) to materially improve their circumstances, find a political voice & share in some of the benefits of our economic ‘miracle’ on the one hand, whilst the rest of us have been preoccupied with surviving or getting our ‘work/life balance’ in order, on the other. And even if we had been paying attention, there is the constant distraction of the whinging & whining of Abbott & co, who would have the world believe that the evil activities of the current government are destroying businesses by the thousand every day.

    Of course, if we don’t care about 40% of our fellow Australians & the insecurity & hopelessness that characterise their daily existence (the great ‘American Dream’ – minus the rewards), then, at the very least, we should still be looking at this issue through the lens of self-interest, because it will get worse.

    If Julia Gillard & her faux Labor pals, including the ‘angry ant’, Wayne Swan, were at all serious about “building tomorrow’s economy” they would be out & about highlighting the real state of the Australian labour market & the growing threat to employment security looming for the overwhelming majority of Australians, instead of engaging in useless ‘tit-for-tat’ exchanges with the self-interested party animals from the big end of town.

    In fact, wouldn’t it be fair to argue that a ‘Labor’ Party genuinely interested in protecting & promoting the employment rights & economic security of all working men & women, couldn’t & wouldn’t be doing much else?

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