Standing Up For Bendigo’s Most Vulnerable Workers

The Andrews Labor Government is cracking down on abuse and exploitation of Bendigo’s workers and cleaning up the Labour Hire industry.

Minister for Industrial Relations Natalie Hutchins joined labour hire workers at Bendigo Trades Hall today to call on the Liberals and Nationals to take action to stop the exploitation of vulnerable workers.

Unlike the Turnbull Government, the Labor Government has introduced a broad-based Labour Hire licensing scheme that will cover horticulture, security and aged care.

The new scheme is in response to the Victorian Inquiry into the Labour Hire Industry and Insecure Work, which uncovered widespread abuse and exploitation of workers across Victoria including Bendigo.

It found rogue operators, including operators in Bendigo, were underpaying workers, not ensuring proper safety standards, abusing worker visas and undermining the minimum standards of employment.

The inquiry received submissions or took evidence from local workers and groups including the Bendigo Uniting Churches Social Justice Group & Bendigo Trades Hall Council.

Evidence was received that labour hire workers in the area were being paid cash-in-hand and were denied applicable penalty rates.

The Labor Government’s legislation is before the parliament and is similar to the Queensland and South Australian schemes.

It is now one year since the Black Market Taskforce created by the Federal Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer provided its Interim Report to the Federal Government.

Despite being alerted to the operation of the black economy in the labour hire industry the Federal Government has refused to act.

The Black Market Taskforce are reported to have provided their final report to the Federal Government in October 2017 and still no action has been taken.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Industrial Relations Natalie Hutchins

“Matthew Guy and his Liberal and National colleagues voted against protecting vulnerable workers and cracking down on crime, but it’s not too late for their colleagues in the upper house to support these new laws.”

“After years of neglect and inaction from the Liberals and Nationals, we’re taking action to protect vulnerable labour hire workers.”

Quote attributable to Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan

 “We’re cleaning up the industry and making things fair for labour hire workers in Bendigo and across Victoria.”

Quote attributable to Member Bendigo West Maree Edwards

“Labor has a proud history of standing up for the rights of workers. Our scheme will go a long way in preventing further exploitation, like the shocking stories that were uncovered here in Bendigo.”