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Magazine of the Socialist Party in Australia

The permaflexi employment scam

Big business has opened another front in their attacks on wages and job security with a proposal for a new employment category called “permaflexi”.

The application to the Fair Work Commission described the new category as “flexible ongoing employment” which does not fit into the existing categories of permanent or casual employment.

This is nothing more than a scam to increase profits at the expense of workers’ wages. If the bosses get their way “permaflexi” workers will get only 10% extra pay instead of 25% extra like casual employees. They will still have the same insecure working hours.

Their argument that casual employees would be better off under the new category as they would get annual leave and sick pay is a lie: these benefits won’t mean much when “permaflexi” workers would only get the minimum of one to three hours guaranteed work per week!

The current target of this proposal are workers in social services, retail, call centres and security, where jobs are already highly casualised with low pay. Many casual workers are already struggling to get enough work to make ends meet. They need more pay and security, not less.

If this new category is allowed to be established, it will set a precedent for other sectors to follow. We need to stand opposed to what is an effective 15% pay cut.

The trade union movement should demand that any future Labor government bans the establishment of a “permaflexi” employment category. This should go hand in hand with demands for a mandated living wage of at least $25 per hour (instead of a minimum wage), and the right for any worker to go permanent after three months in a casual position.

Neither the bosses nor Labor will hand this over easily. That is why we will need to organise more nationwide trade union protests linked to an industrial campaign. Mass mobilisation is the key to ending the low pay and casualisation epidemic.

By Triet Tran