WORKERS TOGETHER: There was a recent combined union rally to protest the casualisation of Gladstone's workforce.
WORKERS TOGETHER: There was a recent combined union rally to protest the casualisation of Gladstone's workforce. Gregory Bray

Both parties want change to target CQ's insecure work crisis

THE issue of insecure work and casualisation continues to plague CQ with both sides of politics agreeing something should be done about it.

In Queensland Parliament last week, Keppel MP Brittany Lauga launched an attack over Capricornia MP Michelle Landry's handling of the issue of insecure work and casualisation.

She called on MP Landry to push her own government to stop the casualisation of jobs and reinstate full penalty rates, and condemned the "disinterest” of Ms Landry and Northern Australian Minister Matt Canavan when 180 Oaky North workers were locked out of their jobs for over 220 days by "the multi-billion-dollar foreign company” Glencore.

Mrs Lauga said the LNP's federal Fair Work Act allows big corporations to get away with treating workers unfairly and it was evident the LNP "do not give two hoots about local secure jobs”.

FIGHTING LOCKOUTS: Keppel MP Brittany Lauga on the picket line with the locked out Oaky North miners calling for a the federal government to ban extended lockouts.
FIGHTING LOCKOUTS: Keppel MP Brittany Lauga on the picket line with the locked out Oaky North miners calling for a the federal government to ban extended lockouts. Contributed

"When the Fair Work Commission temporarily ended the lockout, Ms Landry was quick to claim victory,” Mrs Lauga said.

"If the federal member for Capricornia was genuine about stopping casualisation and ending this lockout, she would have agreed to meet with the workers on site, but she did not.”

She told Parliament it was only last year that Ms Landry voted in the federal parliament to cut penalty rates to the take-home pay of tens of thousands of Central Queensland workers.

Mrs Lauga said if Ms Landry, Malcolm Turnbull and the LNP were genuine about helping local workers, they would be standing up and demanding that companies (like Glencore) pay their fair share in tax, put an end to casualisation, and reinstate penalty rates.

READ: The work 'crisis' plaguing the Rockhampton region

CHALLENGING INSECURE WORK: Keppel MP Brittany Lauga would like to see changes brought in to improve job security for employees.
CHALLENGING INSECURE WORK: Keppel MP Brittany Lauga would like to see changes brought in to improve job security for employees. Allan Reinikka ROK091117alauga1

She said the only thing that will stop these cuts and raise wages, protect people's rights and ensure that we have good steady jobs is for workers such as the men at Oaky North to band together and call for change.

During his recent visit to Rockhampton, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten acknowledged some industries - like seasonal fruit picking - leant themselves to casual work but flagged a willingness to address the issue of insecure work, labour hire and casualisation.

LISTENING TOUR: Opposition leader Bill Shorten addresses Rockhampton resident's concerns during a recent town hall meeting.
LISTENING TOUR: Opposition leader Bill Shorten addresses Rockhampton resident's concerns during a recent town hall meeting. Allan Reinikka ROK210218ashorten

"It's a false economy to rely on casualised labour because that person doesn't have the same commitment to the company, to the outcomes, and if a person doesn't know where their next job is coming from or their next roster is coming from, you just don't get the same out of someone,” Mr Shorten said.

"In the mining jobs there's a health and safety issue too.

"[We'll] implement tighter regulation on labour hire, labour hire is often the advance guard of casualisation.”

In the public sector, Mr Shorten said, as direct employers the government could also stop the trend to consultants, contractors and casuals and can start restoring jobs to full time, because "they are effectively full time jobs”.

In Rockhampton last week, New Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack shared how his party planned to approach the issue of insecure work.

TALKING CASUALISATION: Capricornia MP Michelle Landry, Nationals Leader Michael McCormack and Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd in Rockhampton.
TALKING CASUALISATION: Capricornia MP Michelle Landry, Nationals Leader Michael McCormack and Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd in Rockhampton. Chris Ison ROK080318clandry1

Mr McCormack said he became familiar with the issues of insecure work while sitting in a FIFO inquiry.

"We need to make sure that workers are paid in full time employment,” he said.

"Look they're big things, I know they're big things for Central Queensland and wider Queensland itself but there are all sorts of things as well can't be solved overnight.”

He was aware that Ms Landry had met to discuss the issue with Minister for Jobs Michaelia Cash and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

"It's certainly something which the government is looking at and I certainly know that it's something that Michelle is passionate about,” Mr McCormack said.

READ: Landry discusses plan to tackle CQ's casualisation problem

BLAME GAME: Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said the last federal Labor government signed off on the current workplace laws.
BLAME GAME: Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said the last federal Labor government signed off on the current workplace laws. Chris Ison ROK230218clandry2

Ms Landry said she had put a lot of effort into talking with the proper ministers in regards to the casualisation issue.

"We have played a big role, particularly in Oaky Creek [mine] with the workers going back to work out there,” Ms Landry said.

"Craig Laundy, our new Assistant Minister for Employment has been absolutely fabulous, he has helped enormously, he's had meetings with the unions and he is really on the ball.

TALKING STRATEGY: Capricornia MP Michelle Landry has been actively liasing with ministers to address the insecure work issue.
TALKING STRATEGY: Capricornia MP Michelle Landry has been actively liasing with ministers to address the insecure work issue. Leighton Smith

"We've had a lot of negotiations about these issues, we will continue to do that and we're as passionate about getting as many people as we possibly can into full time employment.”

She said the current rules, laws and legislation in place were brought in by the former federal Labor government.

"There obviously needs to be some adjustments done to it, we are working with the correct ministers, we are working with the mining companies and we're working with the unions,” she said.

WAR OF WORDS: Each side of government has differing approaches to the insecure work issue.
WAR OF WORDS: Each side of government has differing approaches to the insecure work issue.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said both the CMFEU strike action and Glencore's lock-out were effectively legal action taken under the Fair Work Act that was put in place by Julia Gillard and her federal Labor government.

"Ms Lauga has simply got her facts wrong and is revealing that she's trying to score cheap political points out of what has been a traumatic time for these coal workers, rather than find real solutions for them,” Senator Canavan said.



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