Casualisation of mining jobs is the topic of this month's poll, which also looks at unions in the workplace.
According to the ACTU nearly 40 per cent of Australians have casual, or “insecure”, work. It’s an increasing trend that’s affecting some in the mining industry, too, where about 16 per cent of employees are casual labour.
Casualisation of work is the topic of this month’s Mining People Poll, and it comes as the union movement ramps up its campaign against the phenomenon in Australia and the Labor Party confirms its plans to change things if it wins government.
Our poll asks whether automatically converting casual jobs to permanent ones after a fixed period of time is a good idea. We also look closely at the role of unions on mine sites and whether people working in the industry see them as a positive or negative influence.
The casualisation of Australia’s workforce
While the union movement claims 40 per cent of the Australian workforce is casual, the Australian Bureau of Statistics cites a lower figure of 25 per cent – which is about the same as 20 years ago. That figure does not, according to the unions, take into account the “gig economy”, like Uber drivers.
In May, ACTU secretary Sally McManus said casualisation was bad for employees.
“It runs through everything,” she told the Guardian. “When you are not secure in your job, you have [fewer] rights, greater stress. It affects your everyday life and that of your family. This has to change.
“We have a simple decision to make: do we want the next generation to never know what it is like to have a paid holiday, or do we think they deserve the same, or better rights than their parents and grandparents enjoyed?”
Business says many people want flexibility
Conversely, Stephen Smith, Head of National Workplace Relations Policy at the peak employers’ organisation, the Australian Industry Group, says the changes to the labour laws would be harmful for both employees and businesses. He told the Australian the proposition was “ridiculous”.
“Changes are needed to the act to increase flexibility, not to remove essential existing flexibility,” he said.
“Casual employment suits a very large number of people, who prefer this form of employment because it gives them the flexibility that they want or need.”
Take part in our poll on casualisation and unionisation in mining
So, what do you think? Does casual employment suit you or your company? Or is it a scourge that leaves people in insecure employment?