Published: 11/06/2012

Casual workers in an Australian workplace supplied by global temp giant Manpower are required to wear barcodes, reports the National Union of Workers (NUW).

NUW assistant national secretary Paul Richardson, in an opinion piece in Melbournee daily The Age, cites the armbands as part of the “grand-scale social experiment” underway in Australia, namely the massive destruction of decent jobs and the replacement of direct, permanent employment with disposable third-party employment.

“Forty per cent of our workforce” he writes, ”often through no choice of their own, are participating in this social experiment. The majority are those who are employed as casuals, commonly through labour hire agencies, or as subcontractors working for the same employer day in, day out.”

At one Australian work site, Manpower workers are issued with mandatory identification armbands bearing barcodes. The barcodes must be worn at al times and are required for access to equipment enabling these workers to perform their duties. The workers are reqired to pay for their own barcode armbands.

Manpower is one of the corporate members of Ciett,  the global agency lobby group which describes itself as the “voice for labour choice” whose members are promoting decent work through their expansion.

In a recent Youtube video, NUW Victorian secretary Tim Kennedy explains why building solidarity between casual and permanent employees is the key to meeting the main challenge facing the NUW and the wider labour movement: organizing and bringing casual workers into union membership to roll back precarious work.