Inquiry hears about exodus of banking jobs overseas

by Ray Clancy on February 29, 2012

in Jobs in Australia

Australian investigation into insecure work is nationwide

The exodus of Australian banking jobs to overseas is limiting opportunities for secure jobs and careers, the Howe Inquiry into insecure work has heard.

Three Westpac employees who either already know they will lose their jobs, or expect to, during the bank’s announced redundancy of 560 workers this year, told how they fear the bank’s plans to offshore their jobs signals the end of job security in their industry and reduces their opportunity for ongoing work in the future.

Leading Australian expert on workplace issues, Professor John Buchanan, director of the University of Sydney’s Workplace Research Centre, said that there needs to be solid solutions to the growth of insecure work.

Another academic, Chris Eleanor, gave evidence of his personal battle with insecure work. Eleanor, employed on a casual basis at the University of Western Sydney’s School of Business, is unpaid between teaching semesters and often is unaware of how much work, if any, he will have from one semester to the next.

The public hearings are part of a nationwide inquiry into insecure work, chaired by former Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe. It is investigating the growth of insecure jobs and how it affects people’s lives and communities right across the country.

It is also hearing about migrant workers from overseas who accepted insecure work because of a fear it was all they could get.

Howe said that while the growth of insecure work mirrored global trends, the development had been more pronounced in Australia.

‘Casual workers now make up almost one quarter of Australian employees, and fixed term contracts, independent contracting, labour hire and new forms of outwork are all growing in different industries,’ Howe said.

‘Many of these jobs deny workers the reliable income, permanency, security, and conditions and entitlements that permanent jobs offer. It is difficult for workers in insecure employment to plan their future or be confident they will even have a job into the future,’ he added.

Among the issues to be considered by the panel during the inquiry are the extent of insecure work and its causes and effects, the social and economic cost of insecure work to employees, employers, government and the Australian community, and the rights and entitlements that can best assist to provide security for workers.

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