I do hope you’ve had a safe and happy New Year’s Eve, and that the year ahead sees every day better than the one before.
After a night shift on top of a long day precariously balanced on too little sleep, I’m headed to bed. But first:
As I write yesterday, 2012 was a fantastic year for me. Not so for all – in addition to the sorrows, tragedies, losses, griefs and bad news that are an unhappy part of our lives, a growing number of Australians found themselves with precarious employment. Just over 60% of Australian workers have secure work – I’m one. My employment contract is ongoing, and from the time I started work as a registered nurse I’ve never had to worry about whether I could make my next rent, or have to plan for a pay day without pay.
When I started in the workforce almost a quarter of a century ago, this was the norm. But for a rapidly growing number of us, this is not only the case, it has never been (and may never be) the case. As I said in October, when I covered the NUW’s Fluoro Fightback, casualised work is an issue across all sectors and industries, at all levels – in Victoria more and more teachers, for example, are going years without knowing if they have work next year, next tem, or even tomorrow. One teacher I spoke with recently graduated two years ago and was on her ninth contract; another only knows she’ll be working if the phone rings before 8AM.
There will always be a place for casual work – sessional labour, student jobs, and positions like locum doctors, relieving teachers and agency nurses are preferred for some. Indeed, without these roles many of our systems would fail to function.
But casual work should be so because it suits the employer and employee. For the almost 40% (and climbing) Australian workers who are casual, fixed term, contracted or labour hire not because they choose it but because their employer has weighed the short-term costs of sick leave, annual leave and other entitlements against loyalty, training, knowledge and investment, the impact is more than feeling precarious. Without the knowledge that they have a job tomorrow, next week or next month these people can’t plan for the future, make promises to their children, develop a career, or even be eligible for mortgages, car loans, credit cards or sometimes even rental properties.
If you think secure work’s worth fighting for, visit www.securejobs.org.au, and think about supporting the cause. The future you’re protecting is your children’s, your country’s, and possibly even your own.