Published: 25/10/2021
Category: On The Job
Published: 25/10/2021
Category: On The Job

Queensland LNP Senator Matt Canavan is a great pretender.

The economics graduate, whose career path led him to Canberra and a gig at the Productivity Commission loves engaging in dress ups with a high vis top on and coal dust on his face. This is our newest rendition of the fake tradie.

Matt Canavan donning a workers uniform on his social media.

There he is again, playing Canavan the tool man. Standing in front of a tool shed shadow board, the Minister looks like he’s on the set of a home improvements show. He’d probably be feel more at home endlessly trolling Australia on whatever TV station will have him to talk about how climate change is a hoax.

Cosplay Canavan’s other great pretend friends are the workers of Central Queensland.

The Senator is always banging on about how he is the last great hope for decent jobs for people in those communities. Like his LNP colleagues Michelle Landry, Ken O’Dowd and David Littleproud, they talk a big game when it comes to looking after the interests of their constituents.

The truth is, like Canavan’s cosplay games, it’s all just window dressing.

A new report released by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and the Queensland Council of Unions has blown apart the myth that Matt Canavan and his pretend friends in the LNP are the guardians of decent jobs for Queenslanders.

The Spotlight on Job Insecurity and Wages – Queensland report shows that insecure work is at crisis levels in the region, with nearly 4 in 10 workers (38.7 per cent) in casual work, well above the Australian average of 21.9 per cent.

ACTU Secretary, Sally McManus put into context just how the LNP has knowingly and deliberately presided over the erosion of job security for workers in the region.

“Nearly all workers in mining had permanent work in 1996, now it’s less than half. They are on casual or labour hire arrangements earning 30 to 40 per cent less than permanent workers employed directly by mine operators doing exactly the same work – this is despite the industry making at least $35 billion in profits last year.”

“Insecure work is at crisis levels in Central Queensland, with nearly 4 in 10 workers in casual work. These workers are under tremendous financial and emotional stress as insecure work means no regular hours and pay, making it harder to save or plan ahead,” Ms McManus said.

Russell Robertson knows this firsthand.

Robertson is a third-generation coal miner who knows what it’s like to work in the mines and feels no need to smear his face in black dust for photo opportunities.

Russel Robertson, Third Generation Miner and Labor candidate

Mining is in his blood. So too is a passion for the people of Central Queensland and the communities they live in. He is running as a Labor candidate for the seat of Capricornia and he told On the Job that he is determined to make the scourge of insecure work in the region a key election issue.

“It’s the [continued] evaporation of permanent jobs. There are two huge meat works here in Rockhampton where we’ve seen that transition happen, where people who are supporting families who now can’t be guaranteed that they’ll have a permanent shift.”

“It’s the same shift going on in coal mining where people have gone from working for 30 or 40 years to not knowing if you’re going to be working there in two weeks time.”

Robertson is quick to point out that the increasing power of labour hire firms using casual workers has not only skittled job security in the region, it poses a threat to the health and safety of workers on the job.

“It completely hampers safety at work. It is safety suppression. [Casual workers] are not game to speak up or say no to do something that could potentially injure themselves or someone else, or worse, because they know that their employer will find a sneaky way of saying we don’t need you anymore.”

McManus agrees. She equates the current employment practices in the region with the exploitative gig economy jobs that people in urban communities are familiar with.

“To stop the uberisation of the Australian workforce, the Morrison Government must protect workers and pass laws ensuring ‘same job same pay’. Workers doing the same job should get the same pay regardless if they are on the books of a labour hire company or directly employed,” the ACTU Secretary said.

For Russell Robertson, the upcoming election will be all about job security. He’s ready to take on his LNP opponents head on.

“It infuriates me. When you listen to the [LNP politicians] you can see that they’re talking out the side of their mouths.”

“There is no genuine concern for the community. This report just confirms what we already know. There are half the permanent jobs in this region than there was in 1992.”

“The LNP are doing nothing, they’re looking the other way because big business is helping them, and they’re facilitating big business and getting away with putting our livelihoods and lives in jeopardy.”

Queensland’s great insecure work plague exposed

Queensland’s great insecure work plague exposed