The Recruitment and Consulting Services Association (RCSA), which describes itself as the leading industry body for the employment services sector in Australia and New Zealand, has launched a campaign to clean-up “sham and unscrupulous labour-hire companies that are breaking the law and exploiting migrant workers in unlawful labour contracting arrangements”.
The RCSA, which represents over 3300 company and individual members, says its members have identified the accommodation and food services sector as an industry sector where such unlawful labour-hire practices are common.
In a letter to Global Travel Media, RCSA president Robert van Stokrom said employers couldn’t shirk their responsibility for safeguarding on-hire and contracted labour.
“The statement yesterday by chicken processor Baiada that the company ‘expects their labour-hire contractors will conduct their activities in accordance with the relevant legal and ethical standards’ is an unacceptable attempt at ‘passing the buck’ in the management of on-hire workers,” van Stokrom wrote.
“Employers have a well-defined responsibility to fully satisfy themselves as to the bona fides of their suppliers and that their systems are legal and ethical.
“Employers that attempt to ‘side-step’ their obligations are both breaking the law and placing the wellbeing and safety of workers at risk.”
van Stokrom said the RCSA had been “alarmed and absolutely disgusted” by the treatment of migrant workers shown in a recent report by Four Corners and in the Statement of Findings from an investigation of Baiada Group by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
“Unscrupulous labour-hire companies are a scourge on the community, and RCSA is working with employers, its members and industry partners, such as the unions, to clean-up the system.”
RCSA says unlawful labour-hire practices are common in the following industry sectors:
- Accommodation and food services
- Agriculture and horticulture
- Fishing and hunting
“It is both irresponsible and reckless to rely on a defence of ‘I didn’t know and I didn’t ask’,” van Stokrom said. “This fails to safeguard the rights of the workers.”
RCSA has been developing a proposal for a single national framework for the regulation of the employment services and on-hire marketplace, and earlier this week released for public consultation its proposal for an Employment Services Industry Code (ESIC).
This code would regulate the conduct of all users and suppliers of employment services at all points of the supply-chain for labour.
RCSA is calling on purchasers and suppliers of on-hire and labour contractor services to get behind a single national regulated code that will provide a transparent environment for employers and to rub out illegal operators,” van Stokrom said.
“It is time we looked after the rights of ALL workers.”
Edited by Peter Needham