ACTU report: Casual workers miss out on $350, union boss Sally McManus claims

A new union analysis has claimed that millions of Australians are $350 worse off a week in their salary for one reason.

The boss of nation’s peak union body has blamed the growing number of casual workers for low wage growth in Australia, releasing new analysis showing they earn an average of $350 a week less than their full and part-time counterparts.

As Labor and the Coalition begin the official campaign for the election, Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus labelled cost of living pressures the “worst” she’d seen in her 25-year career as a union official.

“It’s to do with the fact casual workers have less bargaining power than other workers because they have less job security,” she said.

“Your average casual or insecure worker absolutely understands that it’s harder for them to push for a pay rise than if you’ve got a permanent job.

“It’s part of the explanation of what’s going on with our labour market – the fact the Reserve Bank and federal government scratch their heads and they don’t understand why wages aren’t going up, it’s because they’re not properly understanding the effect of insecure work on workers’ bargaining power.”

A new Australian unions report to be released on Monday estimates there are 4.15 million people in insecure work, including casual, labour hire, gig economy and rolling fixed-term contracts.

It points out this is about half a million more than when the Coalition came into power in 2013.

The report also analyses casual pay, finding on average a permanent full-time person earns $1500 a week, compared to a casual equivalent who brings in $1144. This amounts to a $355 difference.

A part-time workers earns $762, compared to a casual who would earn $400, the report says, which is a $362 shortfall.

The union also surveyed 3800 people and found that 83 per cent of insecure workers were dissatisfied with efforts to reduce the cost of childcare and 80 per cent were unhappy with housing affordability.

Last election the ACTU is estimated to have spent about $25m campaigning against the Coalition however Labor only picked up a few of the 16 seats they were targeting.

This time Ms McManus said they would change their focus because of Clive Palmer saturating the market.

“Last time we did spend a lot of money on advertising, but no one is going to compete with Clive Palmer, he just basically floods the whole market with his millions,” she said.

“I think a lot of people are cynical about that, that’s all they see … but we’re not that, we’re a people’s movement so our approach to all of this will be based on the person-to-person conversations.

“In terms of TV advertising we’re not going to try and compete (with Clive Palmer), I don’t think that’s the best use of our time and energy.

“We want our issues and in this case it’s job security to be a top order issue for parties to commit to, we would love it if the Liberals would say they would act on this, we wouldn’t spend any of our time or energy if we knew they’d do something, but they’re not.”

The Coalition has pointed to the fact Australia’s unemployment is at 4 per cent, the equal lowest in 48 years, with nearly two million more Australians in work compared to when it came to government.

The Reserve Bank has previously released analysis in 2019 saying that casualisation of the workforce had an insignificant impact on wage growth.

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