Australian Council of Trade Unions calls for ‘roster justice’
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Australian Council of Trade Unions calls for ‘roster justice’

by Hannah Rother

March 28, 2024

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is advocating to hand more control back to employees when negotiating ongoing rosters.


Following the Fair Work Commission’s Modern Awards Review 2023-24, the ACTU has challenged the employer perspective to change work rosters with little to no notice for workers.


As more emphasis is placed on creating a work-life balance, attention is being given to workers who lack control over their schedules with last minute roster adjustments. This is creating financial instability as well as difficulties for those with parenting responsibilities at home.


For parents struggling with consistent and reasonable rostering, this is compounded by early childhood education and care (ECEC) being inaccessible to many to mediate this stress.


ACTU President, Michele O’Neil explains, “Last-minute changes to rostering discriminates against workers with caring responsibilities and freezes them out of industries where that is common practice. There is a clear need for better rights for all workers to secure, stable and meaningful rosters that accommodate caring responsibilities.”


Employer submissions to the Review are calling for increased ‘flexibility’ which has been interpreted by the ACTU as “less security, predictability, and control for working people.”


The ACTU is doubtful that the mentioned flexibility is one-sided to the employer, leaving the biggest impact on women workers and carers.


“Once again, we see proposals from employers that seek to take away workers’ rights and entitlements, which only serve to negatively impact women and carers in the workforce. If we are to tackle the gender pay gap in Australia, we should be looking to remove barriers to work, not put up more roadblocks,” O’Neil explains.


The ‘right to say no’ is a key concern for the ACTU currently, without ramifications from employers.


Michelle O’Neil goes on, “Roster injustice is an issue many working parents face when it comes to juggling work and family life. Employer groups want to have the power to force workers to turn up at any point they want, regardless of the disruptions that causes to their lives.”


Looking forward, The ACTU would like to see rostering disputes being taken to the Fair Work Commission. 

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