Australia : 'Wake-up call for unions' as young workers claim rip-offs
A survey of hundreds of young Australians has found high levels of distress at the way they are treated in the workplace, and uncovered rampant claims of underpayment and exploitation.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions
released this week a survey of hundreds of workers aged 18 to 24 that it says paints a "disturbing picture of youth employment".
The independent study, commissioned by the ACTU, surveyed 500 young Australians working in part-time, full-time, permanent and casual positions spanning a range of industries.
Most of those surveyed raised serious concerns about their workplace conditions and said they believed they were not being paid correct wages.
"The results showed that many young working people have major concerns, including being treated badly by management, no access to training or development, and issues with getting regular work and pay," ACTU president Ged Kearney said.
"Employers ... need to be held responsible for paying young people the right wages, their penalty rates, super and providing adequate on-the-job training."
Half of the survey respondents said they were treated poorly by their managers. More than half – 56 per cent – said they were receiving no training at work, and almost two-thirds felt like they did not have any prospect of career progression.
Employment lawyer Alan McDonald, of McDonald Murholme, said below-award agreements in some of the nation's biggest and best-known supermarket and fast-food chains have exposed that some in the union movement have been complicit in the exploitation of young people they claim to be fighting for.
He said the survey's findings were a "clear wake-up call for the union movement".
"The Fair Work Act gives unions a lot of power and authority in the workplace. [They] must do a lot more to show that it can provide valuable help for employees," he said.
Unions are using the survey results to step up a push for the federal government to commit more funds to training for young people.