Labor stands for secure work

11 February 2022

This speech was given in Parliament by Libby Coker MP on 10 February 2022:

The Morrison government crows about the unemployment figures but turns a blind eye to the human damage inflicted by the rapid growth of insecure work across our nation.

Over the eight long years of the Coalition, we have seen flatlining wages and rampant casualisation of our workforce. This government doesn't want it known that around 3.4 million Australians are in insecure workcasual gig workers, freelancers, short-term contract workersor that when the pandemic began, casuals lost their jobs eight times faster than those in more secure forms of employment. They're working in hospitality, aged care, cleaning, manufacturing, retail and virtually every other sector.

In my electorate, I have seen firsthand the human impact job insecurity is having on workers and their families.

Uber and rideshare drivers who work across my electorate are contacting me in despair. They play a vital transport role, but they have none of the fundamental rights of the rest of the Australian workforce. They have no minimum wage, no long service leave, no annual leave, no family leave and, above all, they have no job security. This is wrong. The denial of natural justice undermines the great Australian tradition of dignity for all workers and a fair go.

There's a rich history of maritime employment in the Geelong region in my region. However, our maritime workers' pay and conditions are under immediate threat. The Maritime Union of Australia is battling Svitzer, a subsidiary of the Maersk group, to retain maritime workers hard-fought rights.

Svitzer has applied to terminate its collective agreement with its entire Australian workforce and push workers back onto the bare legal minimum wage and conditions. It's a deliberate attempt to cut the pay and conditions of workers and push them into insecure work and instead use labour hire. Workers are being ripped off by Svitzer who want to cut their pay.

I stand here in support of the MUA in condemning this shameful behaviour by Svitzer. I reject and condemn any attempt to exploit the Fair Work Act to undermine wages and conditions.

Labor's Secure Australian Jobs Plan will fix this. In government we will tackle the worst employment practices that leave hundreds of millions of Australians in insecure work, we will introduce criminal penalties for employers who rip off their workers and, importantly, we will introduce same job same pay. We will cap the number of times a person can be employed on fixed-term contracts.

Insecure work has been allowed to flourish under the Morrison government. Unlike Morrison, Labor won't walk away from the millions of workers impacted by insecure employment.