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Newcastle inquiry hears impacts of casual contracts

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A hard day’s work is not rewarded with fair pay because of the prevalence of insecure employment contracts in Australia, a Senate inquiry has heard.  

The job security committee was told many casual workers would not speak out about poor conditions for fear of losing out on shifts. 

Hunter Workers representative Andrew Tran told senators more than 90% of aged care workers were on permanent part-time contracts, and the majority worked well above their contracted hours but were not compensated. 

He said the lack of funding and staffing led people to seek other employment outside of agedcare. 

“If there is no incentive to stick around, they won’t,” he said.  

Disability care worker Zoe Moxon said a casual contract with her former employer was untenable due to the fluctuating hours and uncertainty. 

She said at one point her workplace did not inform her she had been a close contact of someone who tested positive to COVID-19.

“I felt the employer didn’t want me to know because of how short-staffed we were,” she explained.

“They just wanted us to continue to work and hopefully not get COVID.”

Meanwhile CFMEU director Alex Bukarica said many labour hire companies have contributed to a “first and second class citizen” approach in the mining sector. 

“There are social stressors and labour hire workers are often treated differently, which is a culture we are trying to change,” he stated. 

He said the introduction of a “same job, same pay” policy would be a step in the right direction, as would a proper definition of casual employment in contracts. 

The inquiry continues in Newcastle on Tuesday and is due to report back to parliament by February 2022.  

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