ADVOCATING CHANGES: Labor's candidate for Capricornia Russell Robertson and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten are advocating for changes to increase fairness for workers.
ADVOCATING CHANGES: Labor's candidate for Capricornia Russell Robertson and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten are advocating for changes to increase fairness for workers. Allan Reinikka ROK210218ashorten

Casualisation 'a slap in the face' for Capricornia workers

FAIRNESS for workers is set to be a battleground topic for Capricornia going into the next federal election.

Earlier this week, The LNP's Minister for the workplace and deregulation Craig Laundy's spokesperson provided answers to The Morning Bulletin's questions on the working issues in our region.

READ: Q&A: LNP answers job concerns in Capricornia

Labor's candidate for Capricornia Russell Robertson has taken the opportunity to provide his own answers to the same questions.

Do we have a need for industrial relations reform?

Absolutely. For too long, we have seen minimal penalties for employers who exploit their workers including being deliberately underpaid.

Is there a predominance of casualisation and insecure work in Capricornia?

As a third generation coal miner, I know that casualisation is the only work being offered throughout our region.

Many workers cannot gain full-time permanent work but can however get there same job back as a casual.

I have worked beside people doing the same work as me for 5+ years but are treated as casual. This is clearly a slap in the face to our workers, our families and our communities.

What should be done about flat lining wages and people's ability to better negotiate pay rises?

Malcolm Turnbull and Michelle Landry are quite happy to give big businesses a $65 billion tax handout.

The fact that productivity is up and no real wage growth has followed this is proof that workers need a fairer way to negotiate pay rises.

Unlike the LNP, Labor understands the challenges in the labour market and will put people first above corporate profits.


Russell Robertson, the Labor candidate for Capricornia.
DEFENDING WORKER'S RIGHTS: Russell Robertson, the Labor candidate for Capricornia. Contributed

Are labour hire companies not doing the right thing and their usage being abused in some circumstances?

The use of Labour hire is becoming an all too familiar event in most work places.

I've seen first hand how workers are put off on the Friday and only then re-employed the following Monday on a lower rate with no sick leave and no Annual leave entitlements included.

We need to change this practice as non tax-paying billion dollar companies are gaming the system. I'm proud that Labor will introduce strict labour hire practices, ensuring that we have secure, local jobs.

What about if an employer was to sacking a workforce and replace with labour hire?

We have seen constantly that labour hire has been used to undermine a permanent workforce, no clearer example than Labour hire being used in the Oakey Creek dispute where we watched Michelle Landry sit on her hands and do nothing.

In fact, Michelle Landry has only spoken about casualisation in Capricornia twice in Parliament, since 2013. When it comes to the serious issue of casualisation, Michelle Landry and Malcolm Turnbull are all talk no action - putting decent jobs and workers last.


Bill Shorten and Russell Robertson in Rockhampton.
ELECTIONEERING: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten visited Rockhampton in March to endorse his new candidate for Capricornia Russell Robertson. Allan Reinikka ROK210218ashorten

What about the termination of Employment Agreements and going back to the award if negotiations break down?

The termination of agreements is proof that non tax paying billion dollar companies are gaming the system. We have watched as these companies have not got their own way and have terminated EA agreements. Some balance needs to be added into the system.

What are your thoughts on the Fair Work Commission's role?

The Fair Work Commission was introduced to help with dispute resolution, enterprise agreements and handling claims for unfair dismissal cases in the workplace.

Only Labor will get on with the job to ensure every worker is entitled to receive penalty rates and also change the law so that workers can apply to the Fair Work Commission to re-negotiate sham enterprise agreements.

Every worker needs a safety net, unlike Malcolm Turnbull and Michelle Landry, who are quite happy to cut penalty rates and support casualisation.