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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 4281 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

(2) expresses concern that a large and increasing proportion and number of the private sector work force in the ACT may be deprived of not only their basic employment entitlements of award and enterprise minimum remuneration, leave entitlements and superannuation but may also fall on the blindside of statutory protection such as occupational health and safety (particularly in relation to shift work), job training and career development;

(3) acknowledges that there may be some benefits of working casual arrangements for some employees; and

(4) calls on the ACT Government to investigate options for raising the awareness of award and agreement entitlements for casual workers amongst employers and employees.

I would like to bring to the attention of the Assembly this morning the issue of increasing casualisation in the ACT work force. The structure of the Australian labour market has changed significantly in the past 10 to 15 years. Since 1990 the proportion of the work force employed in casual positions has increased from around 20 per cent to nearly 30 per cent today.

This trend is also evident in the ACT although ameliorated somewhat by our large public sector. Nevertheless, recent Australian Bureau of Statistics surveys have shown that more than half of the ACT private sector employees are casuals, and this figure is growing. This is in line with the Australian experience where around 70 per cent of total employment growth since 1990 has been in low-paid casual work. Eighty-seven per cent of all those new jobs paid less than $26,000 per annum and 50 per cent of them paid less than $16,000 per annum.

Although women still have a higher rate of casual participation in the labour force, at 32 per cent, than men, at 21 per cent, since 1990 the proportion of men in the casual category has risen faster, from 12 per cent compared to 28 per cent for women. In simple terms, the increase in full-time casual employment since 1990 is mainly accounted for by the increase in male casual employment.

The extent of long-term casual employment has been captured in survey data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Recent ABS survey data shows that over two-thirds of self-identified casuals work regular hours; 40 per cent have a guaranteed minimum number of hours; over half have been in their jobs for more than one year; around 15 per cent have been in their job for five years or more; almost three-quarters expect to be in the same job in 12 months time; and 40 per cent report that their earnings have not varied.

The incidence of longer durations of casual employment is evident across a broad range of industries, including accommodation, retail trade, cafe and restaurants, wholesale trade, agriculture, forestry and fishing, manufacturing and education. Casualisation of the work force has produced the following effects: reduced employment levels and job security; a reduction in the quality of service provision; lower wage levels and working conditions; reduced opportunity for careers; lower employment status; and greatly reduced capacity for employees to borrow money.

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