Indefensible: Organised exploitation at ADF sites

The Downer Group must backtrack on plans to outsource the work of 31 electricians and plumbers from the Gallipoli Barracks at Enoggera and RAAF Base Amberley this Friday, a move directly at odds with the Government’s Closing Loopholes legislation.

Downer intends to slash its permanently employed in-house workforce from 47 tradespeople to only 16 in a drive to cut labour costs.

“These ADF sites have traditionally provided reliable, decent employment for electricians and plumbers,” said ETU National Secretary, Michael Wright. “These men and women have provided dedicated service to the nation and if they were directly employed, some would now be up for Defence Force Service Medals. Instead they are being handed redundancy notices.

Downer’s duplicity comes at the same time as the Commonwealth is actively working to legislate against such practices to prevent exploitation of labour hire loopholes. 

“We fully support the government’s efforts to end organised exploitation,” Wright said. “It’s extremely troubling to see an entity contracted by the Australian Defence Force blatantly exploiting the very loopholes the Government is currently trying to close in the parliament.

“Every time the Government spends a dollar it should  inspire higher standards in the private sector, not a scramble to the bottom.

Downer has a  history of safety concerns when adopting similar subcontractor models. No answers have been offered to date as to how Downer intends to secure the requisite security clearances for workers employed by external labour hire providers

This article was publised on 11 October 2023.