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Labour hire could be banned across industry says authority

BHP Operations Services worker
BHP Operations Services

Outsourcing mine employees might become a thing of the past if one leader has his way.

Authorities recently introduced the “same job same pay” Fair Work Amendment Bill, which encourages companies to hire more people directly instead of using external staff.

“[Anthony Albanese wants to] effectively abolish labour hire,” Federal Employment and Workplace Relations Shadow Minister Michaelia Cash said according to the Australian Associated Press (AAP).

The changes, which promise the same wage for every permanent and contracted worker, are estimated to cost BHP an extra $1.3 billion annually. The mining giant was still deciding whether to use redundancies to help cover the expense at the time of publication.

“Same job same pay will discourage enterprise bargaining, drive inflation, undermine productivity, threaten jobs and undermine the government’s recent bargaining reforms – which have not yet had a chance to take effect,” a spokesperson said according to News Limited.

“In order to address a cost impact of this magnitude, we will clearly need to review its im­plications for our Australian operations and the workforce that supports it.”

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) estimates about 600,000 employees are outsourced, representing up to 4.5 per cent of the national workforce.

More than 80 per cent of labour hire staff work full-time hours without permanent positions, 84 per cent do not have paid leave and many have no guaranteed minimum hours. This suggests each of them potentially earn about $4700 a year less than direct employees.

“When two workers are working alongside each other and doing the same work but one is on a much lower rate of pay, because their employer has been ‘clever’ enough to use a different company to employ one of them – this is not fair,” ACTU president Michele O’Neil said in a public statement.

“Two people working alongside each other doing the same job should get the same pay. Nothing could be simpler or fairer than that.”

Federal Member for Watson Tony Burke accused BHP and other employers of taking advantage of loopholes and vowed to block them.

“If you steal from the till it is a criminal offence, if the employee steals from you it is not. That loophole needs to be closed,” he said according to AAP.

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