A shareholder advocacy group has called for investors to review the use of subcontractors in high-risk, frontline sectors during the pandemic, after reports broke of a security guard at a Melbourne quarantine hotel receiving only five minutes of training.
The guard was reported to be given five minutes of training and one set of personal protective equipment (PPE) per day.
Katie Hepworth, director of worker’s rights at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) said the failure to provide proper training and equipment is a “common practice”.
“It is the result of years of outsourcing in the security industry that has seen the hollowing out of wages and conditions, and seen experienced workers locked out of the industry in favour of inexperienced, [lower-paid] workers,” Ms Hepworth said.
“The Melbourne quarantine clusters highlight the broken chains of responsibility for worker and community safety. This short-term profiteering puts the whole community at risk – and has major implications for the economy as we are seeing a secondary lockdown.”
The ACCR earlier this year published a report on labour hire and contracting across the ASX 100.
Key findings had deemed company disclosure on contractors to be “very limited”, with most companies not defining labour hire or contractor as terms in their reporting and most organisations not reporting on the size of their labour hire workforce.
Further, while most companies report some numerical health and safety data, few disaggregate data for their contractor or labour hire workforce.
The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors last year reported 22 people in ASX 200 companies died in workplace fatalities in 2018, but there was no requirement to tell investors despite a spike in ESG reporting.
Sarah Simpkins is a journalist at Momentum Media, reporting primarily on banking, financial services and wealth.
Prior to joining the team in 2018, Sarah worked in trade media and produced stories for a current affairs program on community radio.
You can contact her on [email protected].