Unions have welcomed Anthony Albanese’s push to spark a new debate on improving protections and entitlements for workers in the gig economy.
“Gig economy and casual workers don’t have equal rights and too many are given no choice,” ACTU secretary Sally McManus told The New Daily.
“Permanent jobs have been systematically converted into casual gig jobs.
“It’s great to see the Opposition Leader committed to addressing this. Scott Morrison has no understanding of the problems and no solution.”
Check out this pathetic attempt to manufacture division! We want better rights for casuals & gig economy workers and have been saying so for a long time. https://t.co/QCpfjGeUVl
— Sally McManus (@sallymcmanus) October 29, 2019
Mr Albanese on Tuesday flagged a new debate on portable entitlements including super and holiday pay for workers in the gig economy.
The Labor leader used a speech in Perth to flag new areas of reform he wants to focus on to tackle rising numbers of Australians working as Uber drivers, food delivery drivers, contract construction workers and other jobs who miss out on traditional protections.
“Job insecurity is on the rise – and it doesn’t discriminate,” Mr Albanese said.
“According to the latest research one in four workers feels unsure about the future of their current job – and half expect it would be difficult to find a new one quickly if they had to.
“While many people take on casual or similar styles of work for lifestyle or other reasons, others, compelled by financial necessity, have little choice.”
Mr Albanese said it was clear these families are sometimes unable to plan ahead or make time to be with their families.
“They may find it impossible to get a car loan or a home loan,” he said.
“Or their lack of job security may leave them too afraid to speak out at work about issues such as health and safety.
“One option would be to investigate the barriers to business offering full-time employment.
“This would not only be better for workers. Businesses prosper when they foster stronger, mutually beneficial relationships with their workforces.”
He said the industrial relations system is being strained by the emergence of new forms of employment arrangements.
“For employers, non-standard arrangements can help with volatility or short-term spikes in demand for labour,” Mr Albanese said.
“For many employees, these arrangements can be beneficial. They can provide flexibility and additional income in the form of a secondary job.
“But let me be clear, we want people to elect to take on this form of work because it benefits them, not have it imposed on them.
“And not as a tool to de-unionise workplaces as a step to lowering wages and conditions.”
Mr Albanese said many Uber drivers adopt the platform precisely for the flexibility it provides and also have another full-time or part-time job.
“It is time to have a conversation about new forms of worker protections, which can be made as flexible as the gig economy jobs they could cover, as well as benefit more traditional industries,” he said.
“Ideas like portable entitlements.”
Unions have long raised concerns about gig economy workers in the aged care work sector and disability services industries.