Caterpillar Inc. Allegedly Forced Temp Workers to Waive Permanent Employment Status

Nathan Andrada – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Sydney, Australia (4E) – The National Union of Workers (NUW) in Australia has accused Caterpillar Inc. for putting pressure to its temporary workers by signing letters that say they do not want to become permanent employees.

NUW filed a complaint against Caterpillar through Australia’s Fair Work Commission, a national workplace-relations tribunal, over accusations that casuals approaching their nine months’ employment are instructed by managers to write letters saying they prefer to stay casual.

For years, the construction equipment giant has used temporary workers, who do not get severance pay when they are let go, for it to be flexible enough as demand changes. Last year, temporary workers make up around 11 percent of the company’s worldwide workforce of almost 133,000.

Caterpillar has a huge parts warehouse in Tullamarine. The company’s labor agreement states that a casual worker is entitled to become permanent following nine months of employment at the facility, according to NUW branch secretary Tim Kennedy.

Caterpillar spokesman Rusty Dunn did not immediately offer a comment.

The case puts into the spotlight the conditions of casual staff at Australia’s labor hire firms. Casual workers are all employed through labor hire firms. Some Caterpillar employees said after they refused to sign the letter they were let go by the company.

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