Recent examples of wrongdoing by dodgy labour hire companies that engage in unscrupulous practices and rip off workers is tarnishing employers that do the right thing and is undercutting wages and conditions.
“We have seen too many instances of workers’ rights being trampled in the labour hire industry.
“For example, the Chinese migrant and temporary workers at the new Bendigo Hospital site were ripped off thousands of dollars before Lend Lease stepped in.
"The Bendigo office of the Fair Work Ombudsman continues to investigate local reports of exploitation in cleaning, security and the hospitality industry. It’s just wrong and must be stopped,” said Ms Chesters.
A Labor Government will protect the pay and conditions of vulnerable workers through a national licensing regime for the labour hire industry.
From 1 July 2017, an elected Labor government will make it unlawful for labour hire companies to operate without a licence and for other firms to knowingly or recklessly use an unlicensed labour hire company.
Breaches of these licensing laws will carry a penalty of $216,000 for individuals (1,200 penalty units) and $1.1million (6,000 penalty units) for a body corporate.
To help oversee the new licensing rules, Labor will establish a Labour Hire Licensing and Compliance Inspectorate within the Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman. The Inspectorate will have the power to monitor compliance with the licensing regime, and will also keep a public register of all licensed labour hire companies.
Licences will only be granted to employers who are judged to be ‘fit and proper’ persons, taking into account criminal convictions as well as their cooperation with the Fair Work Ombudsman and the new Labour Hire Licensing and Compliance Inspectorate.
Companies that are based overseas and supply labour to Australian firms, either directly or through other companies, will also have to be licensed to do business here.
This announcement comes on top of Labor’s plans to increase penalties for employers who fail to pay their workers properly, to provide greater protection from sham contracting, and to make it harder for dodgy bosses to ‘phoenix’ their companies to avoid paying workers what they’re owed.
"Labor’s reforms build on our strong record of protecting wages and conditions. Only Labor understands that fairness at work helps to drive a more productive, competitive and prosperous economy.
"The Abbott-Turnbull Government has done absolutely nothing to deal with the unscrupulous practices of labour hire companies. This is yet another area of public policy that Labor is taking the lead on.
"Rather than engage in the Liberals’ race to the bottom on wages and conditions, Labor will invest in the high-skilled, high-wage, good jobs of the future.
"The exploitation of workers must stop. We need a Federal Government that will act and crack down on the exploitation of workers.
"Only Labor has a plan to help secure and create good jobs for Bendigo and Central Victorians," said Ms Chesters.
For more information on Labor’s labour hire licensing policy visit: http://www.100positivepolicies.org.au/protecting_rights_at_work_licensing_labour_hire_fact_sheet