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Workplace

Casualisation of Work

Scenario

David has a small factory that specialises in swatching. ‘It’s Curtains for You’ makes sets of samples of materials that are used for blinds and curtains. Manufacturers need sample swatches in the shops so customers can order materials. When importing new fabrics they need to place their offerings before customers quickly and are prepared to pay well for the speedy making of swatches.

Previously, David has employed a mix of permanent, permanent part time workers and casual employees. The demand for swatches is not constant and depends on the launching of new fabrics and styles. At times the factory works for twelve hours a day and at other times it is fairly quiet.

David has decided that it is in the best interests of his company to convert most of the part-time positions into casual positions. The increased wage they receive is offset by the fact that there is no need to make provision for holidays, superannuation or sick leave. Some workers have complained that they will no longer have job security and cannot budget and plan their lives. They have no holiday pay, sick pay or superannuation. They are completely dependent on David’s goodwill for each day’s work.

David says the business cannot afford to pay workers to play cards when the factory is having a quiet time. He maintains that he provides work, and that some work is better than no work. He points out that he pays them a significantly higher hourly rate because they are casuals. Moreover he has resisted suggestions that he move the factory offshore, perhaps to China, and make more profit. David is proud to provide work for Australians.

Is this arrangement fair to the workers?

Is it fair to the owners of small businesses like David?

What are the ethical implications of this arrangement?