ACTU’s scaremongering about casuals is a full-time job

The Australian, October 16, 2018 (EXTRACT)

Employers are forcing Australian workers out of secure full-time ­employment and into casual contracts, depriving them of peace of mind and a stable income, the ACTU says.

The ACTU has made this a key element of its Change the Rules campaign, repeatedly referring to it as a “national emergency” that has enabled widespread ­exploit­ation and killed off wage growth. It would be a worry if it were true. But, as with much of what the ACTU says these days, it wilts under scrutiny.

The alarm is based on a claim made in the ACTU’s Crisis of ­Insecure Work report in May that 40 per cent of the Australian workforce has fallen into “non-standard work”, an OECD definition that essentially includes anybody not working a full-time, nine-to-five job.

These “non-standard” workers are not the beleaguered working poor the ACTU would have you believe.

They include all kinds of non-standard employees, from students who choose to work part time to some of the economy’s most successful self-made entrepreneurs.

Despite the ACTU’s alarmism, this cohort also includes a million Australians who earn more than the median full-time wage. They would be surprised to know the ACTU had used them as examples of exploitation.

art-time and casual work offers a means for parents, carers and young people to balance their work and personal commitments. Similarly, the rise of contracting and self-employment reflects Australia’s transition to a more skilled and internationally competitive service-based economy.

Neither ACTU secretary Sally McManus nor the report acknow­ledges even a single benefit of non-standard work. If you were looking for yet another sign that the union movement is out of touch with mainstream Australia, this is it.

It is a desperate attempt at relevance. Casual employment is not even on the rise; it has remained steady for more than two decades.

The ACTU’s delusions explain why so few casuals care to join a union. Fewer than one in 20 casual workers holds a union ticket. Union membership is rarer still for other types of non-standard workers, such as contractors and the self-employed.

If implemented, the ACTU’s retrograde plans for Australia’s ­labour market would make it harder for Australians to work the way they want to. The heavy hand of government regulation cannot wind back the evolution of Australia’s workforce. It may, however, make it harder to adapt work ­arrangements to meet the evolving needs of Australia’s economy, as well as the diverse preferences of workers themselves.