On Wednesday, HACSU delegates Peta, Mel, Simone and I appeared before a senate inquiry to explain why we need new laws to help give workers more secure work and to crack down on employers who exploit loopholes to undercut their workers.
The Closing the Loopholes Bill, introduced by the Federal Labor in line with their election promises, carries much-needed improved rights for Australian workers.
These new laws, which we hope will soon pass parliament, address a range of critical issues, including ways that casual workers can claim permanency when they have worked regular work, legislation to stop employers from outsourcing work to pay people less, as well as laws that will protect workers in the so-called gig economy from exploitation.
On Tuesday, our National Secretary Llyod Williams spoke to the same senate inquiry, outlining the issues that workers have with gig platforms such as Mable. These platforms often avoid employer responsibilities, such as providing workers with minimum entitlements. Yet workers have no collective power to improve their conditions and are exposed when it comes to things like workers compensation and superannuation. The new laws, however, promise to address these loopholes and hold these organisations accountable for workers' minimum conditions.
On Wednesday in Launceston, we talked about why permanent employment is important and the struggles workers face when employers deny them permanent employment or limit their contracts to bare minimum hours. The new laws will give workers the right to take on employers and demand permanent roles with guaranteed hours each week.
Aged care delegates Peta and Mel truly shone and passionately represented all of you. They highlighted why we need good permanent jobs in aged care so that aged care workers don’t have to work short-staffed and can earn a decent income.
Standing in solidarity, Paramedic Simone underscored that all the proposed laws are vital and need to be passed, as some senators have talked about only passing a small amount of the new laws that relate to emergency service workers. Simone explained that it is because paramedics often have to deal with the consequences of exploited workers who too often end up in accidents and other dangerous situations because of the precarious nature of their work.
Unfortunately, it was clear that representatives from the Liberal and National Parties are taking the side of big business and employer groups and are poised to oppose the new laws, which are needed by workers right now.
Now, it's crucial that we rally support from crossbench politicians. Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie's presence at the hearing is promising, and her and her colleague Tammy Tyrell’s votes are pivotal to pushing these laws through.
In coming weeks, we will be asking everyone to lobby all Tasmanian politicians to back these laws as we draw closer to the parliamentary vote. Your voice and support can make a world of difference!