Page 1108 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 3 May 2022

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People deserve more than jobs that pay low wages, that do not offer enough hours and that are insecure, unfulfilling and in many cases dangerous. People need greater control over the hours and arrangements for their work, especially as the pandemic changes the way that many people work. We need to give workers and unions enforceable rights to create a better work-life balance for people.

The unequal impact of insecure jobs should also be remembered. Women are more likely to be working in low-paid, insecure jobs, all whilst having more unpaid family or caring responsibilities, and are still paid a lot less than men. The same goes for migrant and refugee communities, and young people as well.

During the pandemic people in insecure jobs lost work eight times faster than those in permanent jobs. During the pandemic it was shown that people in insecure jobs struggled to protect their own health against COVID. It was shown time and again that those in insecure jobs were required to undertake risky behaviour because they had no other choice. Those living not just from pay cheque to pay cheque but from day to day or shift to shift had no economic choice. This economic imperative, established by decades of casualisation, put their health at risk, the health of their loved ones at risk, and the health of the wider community at risk.

This is not just specific to COVID. There are many infectious diseases that are spread as a result of workers not being supported to stay home, recover and avoid contact with others. Flus, colds and other contagious diseases spread faster and further across our workforces, across our community, when workers do not feel supported to stay home. Those infections can range from minor to severe, as they spread far and wide, seeking out our most vulnerable.

Who else here has appreciated a change in workplace culture where people are celebrated when they decide to stay home when they are actually sick? That is one good change arising from COVID, but it only works when there is paid personal leave in place. Personal leave is not a benefit to the worker; it is a benefit to the employer and to public health.

We need to rewrite our labour laws to protect and improve the lives of working people. We need to rewrite our labour laws to reduce inequality in society. We need to rewrite our labour laws to help protect the health of our workers, our workplaces and our communities.

MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (3.21): As Mr Braddock flagged, I rise to speak on this motion, particularly as it pertains to my responsibilities as the ACT Greens spokesperson for young people. I thank Mr Pettersson very much for bringing this timely and important motion to the Assembly.

Young people have overwhelmingly borne the brunt of the past two years of this COVID-19 pandemic. But even before this, we have seen the past decade of Liberal-National federal government policy reducing the quality of working conditions for casual workers incrementally and destructively. These two things are intrinsically linked. All workers, no matter what generation, are negatively affected by

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