WATCH: Labor calls for Landry to deliver labour hire action
THE battle over labour hire policy has well and truly begun with Labor and LNP organising rival press conferences in Rockhampton to gain the ascendency on the issue.
In the red corner, Labor's candidate for Capricornia Russell Robertson has positioned himself as an advocate for workers' rights, determined to attract the attention of Canberra and in the blue corner stands the incumbent federal member Michelle Landry, who continues to make assurances that her government is listening and responding.
Mr Robertson, along with his southern reinforcements Shadow Assistant Minister for Workplace Relations Lisa Chesters and Queensland Senator Murray Watt, have called on Capricornia MP Michelle Landry to deliver real policy action on labour hire before listening to a young worker named John, who shared his experience of being a labour hire worker.
"I've had a couple of labour hire jobs before, more recently I was working in sales, contracting door to door but the pay was not where it should have been," John said.
"If I had a sick day, I could have lost my job on the spot if I didn't keep up, maybe if I had a bad week, I could have lost my job straight away.
"The conditions weren't fair, I loved the job but it wasn't sustainable in the long term."
John said in his labour hire roles, he worked as hard, if not harder than full-time workers yet he lacked the job security others took for granted.
Ms Chesters, who was the guest speaker for a public meeting on workers rights at the Rockhampton Jockey Club last night, explained how the Labor Party had been listening to community concerns when they formulated their newly announced policy which would crack down on rogue labour hire practices, helping to protect vulnerable workers like John.
"We know that rogue labour hire practices are a big issue here in Rockhampton and in Central Queensland," Ms Chesters said.
"Labor's policy is quite simple, what we are saying is in a workplace, two workers that are doing the same job, have the same skills and experience, should be paid the same.
"Right now, far too often labour hire workers are being treated as second class citizens, a Shorten Labor government will end that practice.
Ms Chesters said the announcement builds on Labor's strong plans to improve the pay and conditions of working Australians, including examining the definition of "casual" work by setting an objective test for deciding when a worker is "casual".
Mr Robertson said the labour hire policy would greatly help protect and provide certainty to the workers of CQ.
He said three years ago in parliament, Ms Landry said she was going to do more about casualisation and labour hire in Central Queensland but she hadn't done anything else and remained out of touch when it came to addressing dodgy labour hire practices.
"As a coal miner, I know the devastating impact this has on our communities. But it's happening across all of our industries, from mining, to manufacturing, to health and education," Mr Robertson said. "Too many labour hire workers are being treated like second class citizens, with lower wages, worse conditions and no job security. When I launched my campaign to get real action moving on dodgy labour hire, Michelle Landry said that the best way to help CQ workers was to give a tax cut to big business, the very companies that are currently ripping off CQ labour hire workers."
Labor made it clear that they intended to consult with businesses about the implementation of their policy and gave assurances that their policy would not affect small businesses using labour hire companies to source workers on a temporary basis or to deliver specialist skills.
Labor Senator for Queensland, Murray Watt said Russell Robertson had helped to secure a fantastic win for Central Queensland.
"Labor's announcement is proof of what can be achieved for Central Queensland workers when they have a Federal representative who is on their side," Senator Watt said.
"Michelle Landry would rather go to Canberra and side with Malcolm Turnbull than fight against issues that really matter to Central Queenslanders, like casualisation and fixing labour hire.
"Michelle Landry likes to talk tough on casualisation and labour hire in CQ. But when she got down to Canberra, she sided with Malcolm Turnbull and his big business mates and voted against laws that would help workers recover unpaid wages where a labour hire company does a runner.
"While Labor is putting forward policies that deliver a fair go for Central Queensland, Malcolm Turnbull and his Member for Capricornia continue to look after the top end of town. She needs to come out and back Labor's policy. Otherwise she reveals herself again as just another mouthpiece for Malcolm Turnbull and big business.
"Michelle Landry has proven time and time again that she will put Malcolm Turnbull's big business mates over Central Queensland. It's not good enough.
"That's why I have been knocking on doors and lobbying politicians to get direct action on dodgy labour hire."