Bill Shorten says Labor will legislate to stop 'unfair' labour hire company practices | Australia news
The Labor leader will confirm the new policy while campaigning in Queensland on Tuesday with the shadow workplace relations minister, Brendan O’Connor, ahead of a speech he will deliver to the ACTU congress in Brisbane in the evening.
Shorten says he will consult labour hire companies, host employers, unions and other stakeholders on proposed changes to legislation and any transitional arrangements – and, anticipating a business backlash, Labor will exempt small business using labour hire firms to source temporary or specialist workers from the change.
In a statement issued ahead of Tuesday’s announcement, Shorten said: “Our policy is based on a simple principle: if you are doing the same job, you should get the same pay.
“At the moment, there are too many workers in Australia subject to unfair labour hire practices, often treated like second-class citizens with lower wages, worse conditions and no job security.
“For some workers, labour hire and casual work is a pathway into a permanent job but for too many workers it has become a way of life.
“While there are workers who like the flexibility that labour hire provides, too often it’s used purely as a mechanism to pay workers less, or to deprive them of conditions and security.”
Labor has already telegraphed its intention to strengthen the workplace relations framework if it wins government, and the trade union movement is campaigning for extensive changes to existing rules and regulations.
In January, Labor suggested changes were needed to the minimum wage-setting process to ensure a “living wage” for award-reliant workers and the opposition is looking at methods to help low-paid workers access collective bargaining to lift themselves off minimum award rates.
The opposition has already announced that it will impose a new labour hire licensing scheme in an effort to protect vulnerable workers from exploitation.
Labor says companies that are based overseas and supply labour to Australian firms, either directly or through other companies, will also have to be licensed to do business in Australia.
Both Shorten and the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, will spend the coming fortnight focussed on byelection contests in several states, with the critical contests in the Queensland seat of Longman and the Tasmanian seat of Braddon.