I am listening to Kelly O'Dwyer rabbiting on at the National Press Club of Australia. She paints an economic wonderland of retirement income products, taxation incentives so that people with work.... All very well, but I wonder when I will hear an NPCA host a speaker on exploited labour in Australia. There is a wide range of labour exploitation in Australia and yet it seems to be treated as an occasional aberration. And it is happening in all sorts of ways to all sorts of people. One of the largest sectors of exploitation is based on gender. Women with low skills, women being discriminated against, women getting fewer promotions, women getting lower wages and salaries and.... And then there is the class/education divide and the multitude of people in lower-skilled jobs such as cleaners and look at what MYER has done with them ... and they are not the only employer into sham contracting. I have a friend whom I would describe as middle-class but she has been forced into sham contracting at an administrative level. She is in her middle years and because of age discrimination and age/gender discrimination, the likelihood of finding appropriately paid alternative work is unlikely. And please note that all this is before we get on to the topic of migrant labor, seasonal labor, very low-skilled labour, shonky labour hire companies and the similarly shonky labour hire companies who have a veneer of class and respectability. And so on. And this is before we get to foreign owned businesses, companies, and corporations bringing in their own labour or exploitation Australian labour. And then there are the industries where rip-offs are part of the culture. Top of that list in my experience are the service industries - tourism, hospitality, retail. Flat hourly rate payments abound. The biggest push for the abolition of penalty rates comes from this sector. There is a large sector of female employment, often at low skill levels. There is a large sector of casualisation - often teens and twenties people and again a significant cohort of females. And all this before I mention fruit-picking and horticultural and agricultural employment. I am an old union official who has worked across a wide range of industries and the employment of cheap foreign labour. I am happy to receive personal stories. I publish stuff on this topic on this blog.
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