Casual workers forced to wear barcodes

Clay Lucas
The Age

CASUAL workers at a warehouse in Melbourne’s west are being required to wear – and pay for – armbands identifying them as non-permanent staff.

The armbands contain employee numbers on barcodes and must be used to obtain scanning equipment needed for their work. Permanent workers at the Sunshine warehouse do not have to wear the armbands.

The case has come to light as unions raise concerns over the increased casualisation of labour. Five per cent of Australia’s workforce, or about 605,000 people, are now employed by labour hire firms, according to the Bureau of Statistics.

Labour-hire casual workers are concentrated in warehousing, manufacturing, property and business services, and health and community services.

About 15 workers at the Sunshine warehouse must have the barcoded armbands.

The workers are employed by labour hire company Manpower and the warehouse is run by logistics firm DB Schenker to ship equipment for Fuji Xerox.

While the armbands do not need to be worn at all times, the casuals must scan themselves in before starting work and carry the armbands at all times. They also have to pay for the bands.

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