Page 1102 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 3 May 2022
ensuring that labour hire providers meet a suitable person test and have a history of compliance with workplace laws. The ACT government has leveraged its purchasing power in order to improve the standards in some industries through the Secure Local Jobs Code.
The ACT government has used its purchasing power to support businesses that do the right thing by their workers. This has meant a fairer and more ethical procurement process in the ACT, supporting good employer behaviour and ensuring that workers in certain industries are better protected. The ACT government has also stepped up during times when our community has most needed it. The Jobs for Canberrans program during the COVID-19 pandemic, in the early days, successfully provided employment for those who had lost work during COVID and were ineligible for support.
Again, the ACT government has supported workers through the portable long service leave scheme. Workers who work in contract industries, like cleaning, would almost never work for the same company for seven years. And now they do not need to. They can accrue long service leave even if they move between employers. This is the kind of forward-thinking policy that we do in the ACT and that we should pursue, changing the way we do things to keep up with modern employment patterns.
The ACT government has also taken a strong position on the privatisation and outsourcing of public sector jobs. They can and should be performed by the ACT public service. This has also allowed those employed in temporary and casual positions to transition to permanent work. Through this program, the ACT government has recognised that casualisation and insecure work are problems in our community that need to be addressed.
Today I am calling on the government to take the next step. Casualisation has become so prevalent and damaging to our community that we cannot continue with the status quo. If the commonwealth government will not act, then states and territories should. We have seen the power of sick pay programs through the COVID pandemic. We have even seen both the commonwealth and state and territory governments provide payments to sick workers. We have seen that this is achievable.
We should step up and protect casual workers. That is why I am calling on the ACT government to investigate providing sick and carer’s pay for casual and contract workers. Casual workers keep our city going. They work in our cafes and restaurants, supermarkets and food delivery. They work in retail, aged care and cleaning. They are an essential part of our city and they deserve to be treated with respect. But right now, these workers are often the most exploited, often overworked, often underpaid and often working in the worst conditions. These are the frontline workers, essential to the operation of our city and our economy; yet when they get sick, they cannot even get a day off with pay.
Casual workers are highly concentrated in certain industries: security, aged care, food services, retail and cleaning. These industries operate on a model of employing people casually in order to avoid the workplace benefits that come with being a permanent employee. The workers are often paid the bare minimum. Sometimes—even worse—