The Guardian February 19, 2003


Union targets labour hire companies

by Bob Briton

The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU) announced a 2003 
national campaign to the improve wages and conditions of the labour hire 
workforce.

"For too long labour hire workers have been treated as the poor cousins of 
the industry", said AMWU National Organising Unit Co-ordinator, John Short.

"As a union, we are committed to working with labour hire workers to 
maximise their negotiating power, and providing them with the skills and 
resources they need to establish proper terms and conditions of 
employment", Mr Short said.

Labour hire workers, many of them casual, are forced to put up with 
unacceptable terms and conditions of employment simply because they need 
the work.

They are denied the right to sick leave, annual leave and other 
entitlements, and can be dismissed without notice.

"Everybody should be able to stand up for their rights", Mr Short said.

The problem is that when labour hire workers stand up for their rights, the 
next day they get a phone call saying "we don't need you anymore".

"Employers have been getting away with far too much for far too long. We 
are determined to set new standards in a sector of the industry that 
deserves better", said Mr Short.

The AMWU is also concerned about disputes that arise over who is 
responsible  the labour hire firm or the host employer  for a worker in 
the case of unfair dismissal or issues of health and safety.

The AMWU highlights one case where labour hire workers were laid off by a 
firm that makes equipment to treat sleep disorders.

The union claims the workers were contracted for a year until they were 
laid off last month. When the union pushed for the workers to be made 
permanent employees they were dismissed.

The union warned labour hire firms, "We will be out there, exposing the 
exploitation and bringing shonky operators to book."

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