As Australia emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic and state economies begin opening, South Australian workers are being left behind with casualised, insecure jobs where they struggle to find enough work hours to make ends meet.
SA Unions Secretary Dale Beasley has welcomed the release of a new report from the McKell Institute, which shows that while the Marshall and Morrison Government’s seek to ‘beat their chests’ about the state’s low unemployment rates, the reality was that South Australian workers were struggling to find permanent, secure jobs.
“The evidence is in and makes it clear; any so-called increase in employment referenced by Scott Morrison or Steven Marshall has been driven by insecure jobs, often replacing permanent, secure jobs which existed before the pandemic.”
“Despite the Marshall and Morrison spin, the stark reality is that insecure employment in South Australia is higher than the national average and those who are hurt most are women, young workers and those living in regional and rural South Australia.
“South Australians are struggling to find secure jobs that ensure they can put food on the table for their families and keep a roof over their heads.
“Workers in South Australia have a high underutilisation rate, meaning they can’t get enough work hours to make up a full-time wage to provide for their needs. Australian workers lost 66 million hours of work in the month of August 2021 alone.
“19,000 South Australian’s were retrenched during the COVID-19 pandemic and have left the workforce entirely.
“If they do seek to return to the workforce, finding a full time, permanent job will be almost impossible.
“In 2021, there were 7,000 fewer men in full time, secure employment in South Australia than there were a decade ago.
Mr. Beasley said that South Australians are being forced to work multiple part time jobs in an effort to assemble a full-time weekly wage.
“2021 saw an explosion of Australians working multiple jobs. Those working two or more jobs is at an all-time high – the highest since the ABS started recording multiple job holdings in 1994.
“If that wasn’t bad enough, the rate of Australians working three or more jobs is also at a record high.
“Although there exists a tiny proportion of Australians with two or more jobs who are not struggling financially, the fact is a vast majority are doing so because they’re unable find a single, secure job that provides enough hours or pay to live on.
Mr Beasley said that far from work to ensure that South Australians had access to secure, permanent employment, the Morrison and Marshall Governments have only made the situation worse.
“The Morrison and Marshall Governments have done nothing to address job insecurity and in fact has made the situation worse for South Australians.
“The Morrison Government recently introduced a definition of casual employment into the Fair Work Act which effectively lets the employer decide who is and who isn’t a casual and denies workers paid leave, job security and certainty in their lives.
“The Morrison and Marshall Governments are also doing nothing to clamp down on the abuse of fixed term contracts that are continually rolled over, employers paying labour hire workers 30% less than directly employed staff but doing the same work, and gig economy workers who can’t earn the minimum wage because big tech companies are able to pretend that their workers are running small businesses.
“To deliver well paying, secure and permanent jobs in South Australia, the Morrison and Marshall Governments could acknowledge the state’s potential as a leader in clean energy – home to the country’s only solar panel manufacturer and one of the world’s largest grid-scale batteries – and foster the development of jobs in that industry.
“This would simultaneously prioritise the important pivot to clean, renewable energy while also attracting young Australians to South Australia, and incentivising young South Australians who want secure, long-term jobs to stay.
“Marshall and Morrison must also recognise the huge role their governments play in setting the market, and the major boost they could make to job security by favoring local business with good employment practices for government contracts and procurement.
“South Australians want to see their hard earned taxpayer dollars used to support local businesses and to grow local jobs. Yet the Marshall and Morrison Governments have completely failed to promote a single local procurement initiative to ensure that the money our governments spend benefit Australian businesses and Australian workers.
“Other state governments like Victoria, the ACT and Western Australia are taking action to improve Government procurement practices to support local jobs and industry. Why are we hearing crickets on this from Steven Marshall?
“Government procurement policies can be used to create and support local jobs, train much needed new apprentices, promote best practice industrial relations and promote workplace diversity. We urge the Marshall and Morrison Governments to adopt these as soon as possible.
“The recovery from the pandemic should be seen as an opportunity to build a better, more equitable workforce in South Australia, no recommence an employment race to the bottom that sees South Australian workers left behind.
“Scott Morrison and Steven Marshall would do well to remember that a recovery that doesn’t include our marginalised and exploited workers, is not a recovery at all.
“That’s why South Australian unions are calling on the Federal and State Governments to take urgent action to provide South Australians with the secure jobs they need and deserve.”
All Media Enquiries: Dale Beasley – 8279 2222