Australia: insecure work making us a more divided society

The ABC’s 2021 Australia Talks survey highlights the effect insecure work is having on the way young workers and women think about their lives and their jobs, as Australia becomes a more divided society.

The survey finds that Australian workers are concerned about the increasing rate of insecure work, nervous about having a secure retirement, and concerned about what future generations will face.

  • Three-quarters of young workers and 59 per cent of Australians now believe that this generation will be worse off than their parents.
  • 50 per cent of Australians are not confident that they will have enough to retire with, the division widening between men and women, with 55 per cent of women facing an uncertain future.
  • 27 per cent say they have difficulty making ends meet.
  • Australians are pessimistic that being a hard worker will be rewarded, with a 12 per cent drop in Australians who believe that ‘if you work hard, you can be successful no matter what’.

The ACTU has responded by urging the Morrison Government to act now to reduce the negative impact of insecure and unreliable work by restoring rights for casual and gig workers. Instead of taking this action, the government has recently legislated to make it easier for employers to keep workers in unreliable and insecure casual contracts.

ACTU Secretary, Sally McManus, said, "These results shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. We have witnessed consecutive coalition Governments strip workers’ rights and oversee the lowest wage growth period since the great depression."

The Australia Talks National Survey asked 60,000 Australians about their lives and what keeps them up at night. Anyone interested can use the ABC's interactive tool to see the results and how their answers compare. 

At 8pm, Monday, June 21 Annabel Crabb and Nazeem Hussain will host a program on the key findings of the survey. Read more: ACTU media releaseOne in four of us struggle to make ends meet, Australia Talks data showsABC online

USA: Survey exposes health care worker safety concerns

A George Washington University survey of frontline health care workers during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic has found many reported unsafe working conditions and faced retaliation for voicing their concerns to employers.

“This survey gives a voice to US health care workers who have been on the frontlines of COVID-19,” said David Michaels, a professor of environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University and former administrator of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Michaels, an adviser on the study, added: “Health care workers have valuable first-hand knowledge about this pandemic and this report offers recommendations that could help keep the US on a steady course now and in the future.”

Approximately 1,200 health care workers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia took part in the survey. They expressed frustration with unsafe working conditions, especially the unavailability of adequate personal protective equipment. Respondents also described instances of retaliation and at times bullying for voicing their safety concerns to employers. There was a perception that employers prioritised hospital profits over worker safety and created an unhealthy work environment where workers felt devalued and threatened.

“The responses to the survey contain important insights that cannot be gleaned from statistics alone,” Nathan L McCray, a lead author of the report, said. “Workers voiced a range of experiences during the first few months of pandemic, including those that were positive and others that were excruciating.” 
Read more: GWU news release and study, COVID-19 National Health Worker Survey [pdf], May 2021.

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