A MAJOR divide has emerged in Australia between people with a permanent job with sick leave and other benefits, and those stuck in a precarious cycle of unemployment and underemployment, former deputy prime minister Brian Howe said yesterday.
Australia was on the verge of developing a working poor that would further entrench poverty in many households, Mr Howe told the National Press Club in Canberra.
A core section of the Australian workforce was in high demand and enjoyed the benefits of well-paid work, including holidays, parental leave and superannuation, he said
But an increasing number were on the periphery, in insecure work as casuals, as a contractor, or employed through a labour hire company.
About 40 per cent of Australia's 11.5 million workers are in some form of casual, contract, labour hire or other non-permanent work. About a quarter of all workers get no sick leave or paid leave. Over the past five months, the ACTU has run an inquiry into insecure work in Australia, led by Mr Howe. CLAY LUCAS