Thursday, 28 February 2008
Commentary: Pat OD
"Just whistle when you need us, we're Allied Workforce
Phone 0800 LABOUR
Phone 0800 LABOUR"
"We're Allied Workforce."
You've probably heard this jingle on the radio.
You may have been slightly offended by the concept that workers can be
conjured up by a whistle from the boss. (like a farmer whistles up his
But what you may have missed, because they don't play it all the time,
is one factory manager gloating that Allied Workforce had made him an
extra three hundred and twenty five thousand dollars a year Because he
didn't have to pay their wages in the inevitable down time, that all
production processes face. Which he would have to do for permanent workers.
So who pays?
Casual workers are usually low paid, and the rent and bills don't stop
coming when you are stood down.
So these workers and their family's are squeezed out of any income for
sometimes quite long periods to plump up profits.
Casual workers are very hard to organise, because the work is never
If you worked last week doesn't mean you will get work next week, or
even the next day, or even ever again.
And joining a union is guaranteed to stop the phone ringing.
This industrial cancer is being helped in its spread by the Labour
Government's Employment Relations Act.
A current poll being run by the Maritime workers union had members put
job security and casualisation as the top concern of workers, even above
wages or health provision.
So what's the answer? The Maritime Union is addressing this question
head on and recruiting casuals and contractors into the union and
pledging them the same union protection as permanent workers.
Of course this effort to defend and benefit the position of casuals is
not helped by the ERA law, which makes it illegal for workers to take
industrial action to better the lot of casuals being exploited in this
way by the bosses.
If casuals are not called in the next day by their agency, for any
reason or none, or even because they joined the union. It is completely
legal for their workmates to take any industrial action in their defence.