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Chisholm: Declining pay rates and conditions are issues worth marching for

Party Lines

Monday was the Labour Day public holiday, and I had the privilege of attending the march in Barcaldine, the birthplace of the great Australian Labor Party.

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There was a fantastic community turnout. It was a day to celebrate the achievements of the Labour movement, but it was an opportunity to reflect on the stark difference between Labor and the LNP when it comes to workers’ rights and the clear choice at this election.

After a decade in office, you have seen constant attacks by the LNP on workers’ pay and conditions, whether it’s cut to penalty rates, anti-worker omnibus bill or letting labour hire run rampant.

We have seen real wages go backwards while the cost of living skyrockets, with no plan to grow wages. Only a plan to try and get Scott Morrison through the election.

In my travels throughout Central Queensland, I have seen how labour-hire has had such a negative impact on these communities, workers who are doing the same jobs but for less money with insecure conditions, meaning many can’t get home loans or even car loans. Labor knows how important it is for people doing the same job to get the same pay. That’s why we have committed to enshrining it in law.

The Morrison Government has stood by and let casualisation run rampant. Labor will legislate a fair, objective test to determine when a worker can be classified as casual, so people have a more straightforward pathway to permanent work.

Labor is also taking action to make sure there is a better deal with gig workers. In the last few years there has been a rise in the number of people working in these sectors with many having no entitlements, a minimum wage or standards, the Morrison Government has taken no action to protect these workers. Labor will extend the powers of the Fair Work Commission to include “employee-like” forms of work, allowing it to better protect people in new forms of work from exploitation and dangerous working conditions.

Most importantly, Labor wants to ensure that making Job Security is an object of the Fairwork act, which requires the Commission to consider things like productivity and economic growth, the importance of work and family balance, and fairness at work; all very important considerations. Adding job security strengthens our laws ensuring our main workplace legislation is relevant and fit for purpose.

This election is a choice. We can have more of the same: declining wages, rampant casualisation and labour-hire and the further undermining of conditions, or Labor that has a plan to deliver more secure jobs, better pay and a fairer industrial relations system.

Queensland Labor Senator Anthony Chisholm and his Liberal counterpart Senator James McGrath  will bring an upper-house view to the election campaign every Thursday.

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