Union plans to ‘dob in’ employers

THE Transport Workers Union is on the verge of launching a campaign to ‘dob in’ employers using employee-like contractors to the Office of State Revenue and the Australian Tax Office.

TWU State secretary Jim McGiveron said the union’s “Dob in a grub” campaign was due to start in about two weeks and would target transport companies and small fleet owners contracting drivers for their labour only.

“This is not a membership drive. It’s the union responding to the concerns expressed by its members,” he said.

Mr McGiveron said State Revenue had made it clear that companies using improper contracting arrangements were operating at an unfair advantage over those doing the right thing.

He said the union was concerned that some employers were using contract arrangements to absolve themselves of their responsibilities in areas such as workers’ compensation, sick leave, payroll tax and superannuation.

The TWU’s move is being watched with interest by several unions such as the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union and the Australian Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union.

There are concerns within the business sector that such a move could pose problems for businesses using contractors legitimately.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA chief executive Lyndon Rowe said he suspected the move was aimed more at increasing union membership than stamping out improper contracting arrangements.

“Our view is that there are genuine contractors out there and that in some cases it’s a more efficient way for businesses to operate,” he said.

Mr Rowe said one of the main concerns facing business was that there were no hard-and-fast rules as to what made a bona fide contractor.

“It’s all very grey,” he said.

Both the ATO and the Office of State Revenue have beefed up their investigation units to crack down on tax evaders.

Both organisations have said they will be taking a close look at contracting arrangements.

Indeed, the Office of State Revenue, with its payroll tax amnesty now concluded, is understood to be increasing its efforts to hunt down businesses using employee-like contractors.

CEPU organiser Shane O’Byrne said his union would be talking to the TWU to see whether it would be a campaign the union could take on.

ALHMWU secretary David Kelly said he too was interested in the TWU’s campaign and would consider joining it because the improper use of contracting arrangements was starting to impact on areas his union covered.

Australian Workers Union WA secretary Tim Daly said his union had taken a relationship-based approach to deal with ‘casualisation’ in the areas that it covered.

“We’ve built relationships with labour hire companies. I think it’s better to try and work with them,” he said.

Unions WA secretary Stephanie Mayman said the increasing casualisation of the workforce was a concern to all unions.

She said how individual unions approached the problem would vary.

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