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Majority of Amazon Australia employees to become permanent

Amazon Australia has committed to transition the majority of its associates to full-time permanent employees by creating 500 new permanent roles in its fulfilment network over the next year.

The shift will begin at its Dandenong South fulfilment centre in Victoria, and will spread as the retailer grows its operations in Australia.

“We know the important role that associates play at the heart of Amazon’s fulfilment success and we are excited to bring these new job opportunities to the operations team in Australia as our network grows,” Amazon Australia’s director of operations Robert Bruce said.

The online marketplace will continue to use agency staff to deal with shifts in consumer demand and handle peak periods.

The casualisation of workers has fast become a topic of conversation, with the flexibility afforded by the position being attractive to both workers and employers, though only if used in the context that a casual employee should be employed.

Increasingly, Australia is beginning to see “permanent casuals” – casual employees who are given regular shifts, though without the benefits afforded to them by a permanent employment contract, such as annual leave, sick leave and job security.

“There is no doubt this unjust treatment of casual workers must be addressed as soon as possible,” SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer said.

In an effort to fight this trend, the Australian Labor Party has proposed to redefine the definition of casual employment, in an effort to make it more objective what the differences between a casual and permanent employee are.

Shadow Minister for employment and workforce relations Brendan O’Connor told IR that casual employment should be a pathway to a permanent job, but has become a part of life for many Australians.

“We want people in this country to be able to plan for the long-term,” O’Connor said.

Industry groups, such as the Australian Retailers Association, however, have warned that Labor’s efforts risk opening the door to casual employees being able to claim backpay, which it argues would bankrupt small businesses.

The ARA’s executive director Russell Zimmerman has argued for easing of certain regulations which prevent employers from flexing part-time workers’ hours without at least seven days’ notice in writing, or having to pay overtime.

He believes a compromise that allows companies to flex part-timers up – offer them the opportunity to pick up more shifts – but not down, would be in the best interest of all parties.

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