Labor’s Shadow Minister for Employment Brendan O’Connor joined the Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird and Labor’s candidate for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips in Port Kembla on Wednesday to talk with local workers about their concerns over job security and low wages growth.  

Workers at Port Kembla Coal Terminal (PKCT) are stuck in a protracted workplace dispute as they fight for fair pay and conditions. The have faced a lock out by the company, the decision to terminate their agreement and are fighting to keep job security clauses in their agreement to protect against the casualisation of the workforce through labour hire.

A Shorten Labor Government will prevent employers from choosing the nuclear option of terminating agreements, forcing workers back on to the award, which undermines pay and conditions. 

Unlike the Liberals who are bereft of a plan to grow wages and reduce inequality, Labor has a number of positive policies to improve our laws to deliver better wages and conditions for working Australians.

Labor will build a fair labour hire industry that helps businesses meet their needs, while at the same time protecting workers from exploitation.

Labor will legislate to ensure that workers employed through labour hire companies will receive the same pay and conditions as people employed directly.

Our policy is based on a simple principle: if you are doing the same job, you should get the same pay and be entitled to the same conditions of employment.

Labor will also legislate a clearer definition of ‘casual’ because too often the contradictory term “permanent casual” is being used by employers to describe their employees, so that workers have all of the hours but none of the conditions of a full time job.

In stark contrast to this government, which has done nothing for Australian workers, Labor has a comprehensive package of reforms including restoring penalty rates; cracking down on sham contracting; ten days paid domestic violence leave; tighter regulation of the gig economy; a crackdown of sham enterprise agreements; and greater penalties for the exploitation of workers.

Under the Morrison Government, everything is going up except for wages, and yet this government is bereft of a plan to deal with issues of increasing job insecurity, casualisation and low wages growth. 

It’s time the Government followed Labor and put workers and decent jobs first.