UnionsWA has today commented on the release by the Australian Bureau of Statistics of data showing a huge, 16.6%, increase in individual contractor employment in WA in just one year. These figures fly in the face of other economic indicators and suggest growing use of sham contractor arrangements that deny working people job security, leave and basic entitlements.
Meredith Hammat, Secretary UnionsWA said:
“These are alarming figures from the ABS – in just a year in WA the number of independent contractors has jumped from 120,000 to 140,000 up 16.6%, compared with stagnating numbers nationally.
“Some of this increase will be the result of growth in small, sole-trader businesses and a sign of entrepreneurism.
“Is WA in the middle of a new era of small business entrepreneurism and growth?
“Maybe, but unlikely.
“However, the fear is that big business and government are shedding ordinary waged employees to replace them with individual contractors at a lower cost.
“The data suggests sham contracting arrangements may be growing.
“Contracting arrangements push onto individuals the responsibility for taxation, superannuation, worker’s compensation, sickness and annual leave arrangements.
“The impact an individuals forced into an individual contractor arrangement isn’t only measured in the financial costs – often there is less time available to spend with family as well as increased stress and worry from insecurity, making it harder for people to plan for their future.
“Sham and individual contractors are often at the mercy of big business and government lead contractors.
“Too often government and big business simply fail to pay contractors on time meaning contractors face even more risk and have to manage cash flow when payments owing are late.
“These are shameful practices.
“Stronger protections are needed against big business lording their strength over retrenched employees by turning them into dependent contractors with limited work rights.
“Government privatisation and out-sourcing of services is a similarly insidious practice.”