Insecure work a concern for many

Kerri Carr

Secure work was the issue of our times, ACTU President Ged Kearney told Federation’s Women’s Conference on April 6.

Ms Kearney said teachers had been fighting the issue for years and now it was an issue for the entire workforce, resonating everywhere.

Millions of Australians no longer have the right to annual leave or sick leave because they are trapped in insecure, casual or contract jobs.

The ACTU is developing a secure jobs charter, a bargaining guide for delegates and an ad campaign.

Ms Kearney told Women’s Conference the Federal Election was a great opportunity for the ACTU to start talking about “governments wanting to shift risk, governments who want to shift costs onto individuals, employers who want to shift all the costs and risks... because that’s what casualisation is all about”.

Ms Kearney said she was also worried about the “big society” concept, which had been “taken up with great gusto by the Opposition”.

“Big society is inherently an unfair system... dressed up as individual freedom, but in reality it empowers the rich and the very well organised,” she said. “When ever you hear of it, let’s push back on it.”

She said the “big society” statement (that society needed to take responsibility for itself ) was weasel words for small government and small public sector.

“It’s about privatising, about out sourcing,” she explained.

Ms Kearney referred to Local Schools, Local Decisions when she spoke about “big society”.

The ACTU is looking for good news stories about what workers and unions do to add value to society, for its online journal at

The organisation sees the online journal as a “new voice for progressive Australia”.