A Queensland parliamentary inquiry will investigate allegations labour hire companies operating in Queensland are flouting the law and avoiding their obligations to workers.
Treasurer and Minister for Industrial Relations Curtis Pitt said the inquiry was needed in light of disturbing allegations about the practices of labour hire companies.
“Earlier this year an ABC Four Corners investigation revealed cucumber pickers in Bundaberg were being paid as little as $12 an hour,” he said.
“This has sparked further allegations of labour hire rorts in Queensland and an inquiry is needed to get to the bottom of these claims.
“This inquiry is aimed at ensuring employers are complying with Queensland’s workplace laws and that workers aren’t unfairly exploited.
“Equally, employers shouldn’t have to face unfair competition because they are doing the right thing when others are not.”
Mr Pitt said the inquiry would investigate the practices of labour hire companies, allegations of sham contracting arrangements and visa abuse.
“Just as importantly, the inquiry will consider how workers’ rights can be better protected,” he said.
Mr Pitt said Victoria and South Australia had already established their own parliamentary inquiries into labour hire companies following reports vulnerable workers were being ripped off.
“We’ll never tolerate labour hire abuses in Queensland, whether it’s local or foreign workers being exploited,” he said.
“I’m encouraging workers, employers and industry groups with any relevant information on the operations of the labour hire industry to make a submission to the inquiry.
“Every single labour hire company needs to be compliant with workplace laws and I want to make it very clear that rogue operators have no place in Queensland.”
Mr Pitt said that further work was also underway to provide a co-ordinated response to enhance the safety, well-being and rights of migrant visa workers employed in Queensland’s fruit and vegetable industry.
“While that work is ongoing, an inquiry will allow a more wide ranging study into the labour hire industry, allowing witnesses to come forward and reveal if they have been exploited,” he said.
The inquiry is due to report its findings in the first half of 2016.