The trade union movement has been leading the fight against worker exploitation in Australia for many years.
Australia’s meat sector has suffered greatly under some of the worst, most underhanded tricks that employers use to dodge their responsibilities and steal worker wages.
Using labour hire workers instead of direct hire workers so that you don’t have to pay them a decent wage? Absolutely.
Hiring backpackers and holiday makers on 417 and 462 visas, forcing them to get an ABN, and pretending they’re an “independent contractor” while treating them like an indentured slave? You got it.
Keeping the majority of your work force on casual contracts so that they have no job security and can’t support their families? That’s there, too.
The AMIEU has been working tirelessly to clean up the meat industry by exposing these dodgy practices, organising workers to push back and defend each other, and taking aggressive legal action against companies who break the rules – and we’ve had some great victories.
But we can only do so much without government support – support that we know will never come from Turnbull’s worker-hating Liberal-National Government. That’s why we’ve been pushing so hard for NSW Labor to pay attention to this desperate problem, and as we’ve pointed out in the past, some of their proposals just haven’t been good enough.
At last weekend’s NSW Labor conference, the ALP unveiled a sweeping plan to tackle inequality by cracking down on wage theft and franchisee exploitation that has allowed so many bosses to get away with stealing so much.
More work is yet needed – work to stop companies from dodging their responsibilities through labour hire agencies, to force companies to employ locals first, and to provide a stable pathway for casuals to convert to permanent employment.
Our employment laws are still owned by the rich bosses, designed to support the rich bosses, and are used to protect the rich bosses at all costs.
That’s why it’s so important that we change the rules to make things fair for ordinary Australians.
We congratulate the NSW ALP on taking this positive step forward and will be watching very closely to see how their policy develops in the lead up to the next NSW state election.