Workers urge politicians to fix Australia’s growing epidemic of exploitation at work

Workers who have spoken out against unfair practices at their workplaces have travelled to Canberra today to urge politicians to adopt measures to halt the widespread and growing practice of exploitation at work.

The workers, including two former 7-Eleven workers, a fast-food delivery driver and a hospitality worker, are urging politicians of all persuasions to fix the emerging labour black market in Australia that is seeing thousands and, potentially, millions of workers exploited.

Two of Australia’s biggest unions, United Voice and SDA, the union for retail, fast food and warehouse workers, say politicians need to push for measures to combat Australia’s burgeoning labour black market outlined in the new private member’s bill of Shadow Industrial Relations Minister, Brendan O’Connor.

Quotes attributable to United Voice National Secretary Jo-Anne Schofield

“Our members want politicians to know that coercion, underpayments, being forced onto ABNs, cash payments and other illegal employment practices are becoming the norm in a growing number of industries.

“Workers need a Prime Minister willing to stand up for them. With every passing day it is becoming clearer that Malcolm Turnbull is not that man.

“The Turnbull Government says it wants to make industrial relations an election issue but it is ignoring workers so it can get harsh industrial relations changes through Parliament.

“Every worker in Australia is entitled to a decent job with fair pay and fair treatment by their employer.

“However, there is no doubt that life is getting harder for too many workers who have no job security and face growing uncertainty about their rights.

“We urge all politicians, especially cross-benchers, to work with Labor to fix the laws so everybody who works in Australia has the protection and security that is their right.”

Quotes attributable to SDA National Secretary Gerard Dwyer

“We’re in the midst of an industrial relations crisis, but it’s not the one the Prime Minister is talking up.

“These workers have been underpaid, forced to work without breaks, forced to pay for stolen goods out of their own pockets, robbed of penalty rates – the list goes on.

“We’re allowing international students to come to Australia and be robbed of their basic rights.

“We are now discovering that the exploitation of international students is often the canary in the coal mine, an indicator of widespread exploitation of local workers.

“The Prime Minister is happy to talk up the need to introduce measures to stop corruption in the trade union movement, but he refuses to reveal any plans to deal with the rampant exploitation of workers. Worse still, he refuses to even acknowledge the exploitation is happening on his watch.

“7-Eleven is just the tip of the iceberg. The horrific truth is that we have no idea how many workers in Australia are being exploited, and we can’t know until our laws are changed to ensure workers can come forward with allegations of abuse, and unions are again given the proper powers enforce compliance, which will deliver fairness for workers and fairness for employers doing the right thing.”

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