NSW needs to do more for shift workers, report says, calling for 24-hour ECEC options
Those in the blue, pink and fluro collared workforce were missed in the NSW Budget, a new report from the McKell Institute has concluded, saying that trialling 24-hour childcare options would support shift workers to enjoy the same early childhood education and care (ECEC) benefits as their 9am-5pm peers.
The research, prepared for Unions NSW will be presented to Treasurer Dominic Perrottet as a State Budget option paper. It finds many of the workers in question suffered greatly reduced incomes and work hours at the height of the pandemic, all while facing a higher degree of exposure to COVID-19.
By December of 2020 the tradies, apprentices and labourers of Greater Sydney were earning a combined $143 million less each week due to the economic downturn. This 860,000-strong group makes up almost one-third of the NSW workforce.
Shift workers, who make up about 16 per cent of all employees in areas including health, emergency services, security, transport, logistics, and other private industries dealt with the double blow of having shifts cancelled while grappling with double the risk of catching COVID-19 as those who work in the day, authors noted.
“Expanding childcare and reducing the cost of getting to work is the least we can do for this hardworking section of the workforce that took so much of the brunt of the pandemic. These proposals deserve to be in the Budget and will have the benefit of attracting and retaining the workforce NSW needs,” Michael Buckland, Executive Director of the McKell Institute said.
To improve the situation, the report recommends that the NSW Government improve these workers’ lives by making ECEC more accessible, with a pilot of a council-run, 24-hour service.
“Our blue, pink and fluro collared workers are the backbone of the State. They copped it during the pandemic, and now in the recovery they face insecurity and a constant financial gouge, just to do their job,” Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey said.
Mr Morey said the next Labor leader “needs to reconnect with these workers by presenting real options to ease the cost of living and give them better access to childcare. It’s hard to get ahead when you’re crippled by tolls and you don’t know who is going to look after your kids.”
“If the relative burden of shiftwork and trades work continues to increase, skills and labour shortages will only increase and put the brakes on the state’s post-COVID recovery.”
To access the report, please see here.