Roy Morgan Polls now says we have 2.2 million Australians under or un-employed, the largest number ever, yet employers continue to claim they are short of willing workers.
On 26 January the Age reported that the government says it is “inviting public comment on the proposed changes to the 457 visa, which it says will encourage workers such as waiters, chefs, bartenders and hotel managers, to fill jobs that were difficult to fill locally or that were ineligible under other migration programs.'' The Age also claims that “Tourism and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said the plan would help tourism operators who were '’crying out' for workers such as cooks, waiters, and hotel managers, particularly in rural areas. The industry claims it is short of 35,000 workers. See "Importing people to pour beer", Maris Beck, The Age, January 26, 2012
Today veteran Sydney journalist Ava Hubble refuted this push, posting this comment on Crikey (6 February 2012)
Australia Day sickies:
Ava Hubble writes: On Friday, the ABC's The World Today program included a segment that claimed that more Australians than usual took a sick day on the day following this year's Australia Day. According to one of the show's guests, Australian workers take nine "sickies" a year, including "non-essential" sick days. He said this is well above international levels of absenteeism. It was also suggested that Australians tend to be "strategic" when they "chuck a sickie", opting to work on a public holiday to reap double time and overtime, and then taking a recuperative catch-up sick day later in the week.
Yet there was no mention of Australia's growing army of casual workers or the fact that they are not entitled to either paid sick leave or paid public holidays. During the show no one made the point that casual workers who took the day off on Australia Day, let alone the day after, would have done so at their own expense.
At least one in four Australian workers is now employed on a casual basis. Many of these workers are parents who worry about the financial and other ramifications of taking time off to care for a sick child. Casuals can be legally laid off at five minute's notice. They do receive a loading for every hour they work, but this is in lieu of a raft of benefits that all Australians once took for granted, including paid annual leave and termination pay, as well as paid public holidays and paid sick leave.
The World Today's audience was also informed that sick leave costs the Australian economy $26 billion a year. It was not mentioned that ACTU research has revealed that Australians, including those in relatively secure employment, are so concerned about holding on to their jobs, that they are collectively working millions of hours of unpaid overtime each year.
But one of those interviewed, professor John Buchanan of Sydney University's Workplace Research Centre, did suggest that employers are taking advantage of workers' insecurity. "They manage by stress," he said. "They cut staffing levels, see how far the organisation can limp along with as few as staff as possible and then respond. This has significant impacts on the workforce."
The show's reporter, David Taylor, also referred to the fears being held for bank workers who are currently labouring under the stressful threat of hundreds of job cuts. Yet it does often seem that the mainstream media is more inclined to accept, rather than challenge, spin doctors' ongoing claims that Australia has a labour shortage and an urgent need to import even unskilled workers.