Inquiry into extent of insecure work in Australia starts next week

by Ray Clancy on February 10, 2012

in Jobs in Australia

Inquiry panel to hear accounts of how insecure work affects people's lives

Public hearing into the extent of insecure work in Australia start next week in Brisbane with more than two dozen cities and towns set to host the events organised by the Howe Inquiry.

The inquiry panel, chaired by former Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe, will hear first hand accounts of how insecure work affects people’s personal and professional lives.

The first day of hearings will be in Brisbane next Monday, followed by several days in regional Queensland, before moving to Western Australia and New South Wales. The panel will then visit Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory. In total, hearings will be held at 23 locations concluding in Melbourne on 22 March.

‘Job security is one of, if not the most important issues affecting the Australian workforce right now and we have seen recently just how easy it is for major employers to cut jobs and turn people’s lives upside down,’ said Ged Kearney, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).

‘Workers who are engaged in insecure work constantly live with the threat that their hours could be cut or their jobs may disappear completely. These workers have no job security and they have told us they cannot plan their futures, they find it hard to get a mortgage, to go on a holiday, and even to watch their children play sport,’ she explained.

‘We know that insecure work, such as casual, fixed or short term contracts, labour hire, and contracting, has almost doubled in the last two decades to make up about 40% of the workforce now. The Howe Inquiry is one of the most important investigations into the changing nature of Australian work in recent times and has been commissioned by the ACTU to examine the impact of insecure jobs on the workplace and the community,’ she added.

The inquiry has been swamped with more than 500 submissions, including from around 450 workers eager to tell their stories. The submissions also include about 50 from community groups, unions, academics and other organisations.

‘It is no understatement to say that the number and quality of submissions to this inquiry has exceeded our wildest expectations. The issue of insecure work has really struck a chord in the Australian community,’ said Kearney.

‘The public hearings will be the next important step in the inquiry, allowing workers, the unions who represent them, and other organisations who have made a submission to paint a clear picture of the issue, its consequences, and solutions,’ she added.

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