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By Dana McCauley
A parliamentary committee led by Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce has broken ranks with the Coalition to call on Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O’Dwyer to crack down on employers using labour hire arrangements to entrench long-term casual work.
The House standing committee on innovation, industry, science and resources has recommended a review of casualisation and labour hire, with a view to amending the Fair Work Act to prevent misuse, particularly in the mining industry.
The Coalition-dominated committee echoed Labor’s policy approach, calling for a prohibition on “replacing directly employed, full-time workers with ‘permanent casual’ employees, and other similar casualised employee types”.
“Changes to the act should also include provisions that guarantee that employees have a legal right to convert from casual to permanent employment after a set period of time,” the report said.
Australian Mines and Metals Association chief executive Steve Knott said the industry body was disappointed to see the committee “buy into divisive language and ill-informed campaigns against responsible and appropriate use of labour hire and casual employment arrangements”.
“Labour hire is a very small part of the resources and energy workforce,” Mr Knott said.
“Nonetheless these arrangements are essential for engaging skilled workers for short-term or contract work, particularly in the more cyclical, project-based areas of our industry.
“On major resources and energy projects, a reliable source of contract labour contributes to the efficiency and success of projects, which ultimately deliver great benefits to the Australian economy.”
He said a modern economy needed “a wide range of engagement models” to give people “more flexibility in how, when and where they work”.