Labour Hire Inquiry Evidence Reveals Disturbing Worker Exploitation

Minister for Industrial Relations Natalie Hutchins today congratulated the independent inquiry into labour hire and casual work in Victoria on completing its comprehensive round of public hearings across Victoria.

Evidence has been put to the inquiry suggesting widespread underpayment of award wages, tax avoidance, non-payment of superannuation, poor occupational health and safety practices, maltreatment of workers and backpackers on visas, and, in some instances, allegations of illegal conduct.

Evidence has also suggested unfair and unscrupulous treatment of workers in a number of industries including horticulture, education, food processing and transport.

The inquiry will now consider the evidence put forward – alongside the submissions it has received from more than 90 organisations across the union movement, employer and industry associations, welfare and church groups and ethnic agencies, and submissions from more than 630 individuals.

The inquiry, chaired by Professor Anthony Forsyth, is investigating the links between worker exploitation and labour hire companies, insecure work, sham contracts and the abuse of visas to avoid minimum workplace standards.

The inquiry was a key election commitment for the Andrews Labor Government, following mounting examples of worker exploitation.

The inquiry, which began in Mildura last November and travelled to Dandenong, Geelong, Melbourne, Shepparton, Melton and Ballarat, finished in Morwell this week.

The inquiry has also heard evidence from a range of bodies and individuals, including unions, peak bodies and those who use labour hire, such as employers and farmers, through the hearings.

The inquiry’s report is due on 31 July 2016.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Industrial Relations Natalie Hutchins

“While most labour hire companies are doing the right thing by workers, sadly the evidence from these public hearings have unearthed disturbing allegations of worker exploitation.”  

“I await with interest Professor Forsyth’s report and any recommendations he might make to ensure workers are getting paid fairly, and working in a safe environment.”