UnionsACT welcomes audit of apprentice safety and supervision

UnionsACT has today welcomed Work Safe ACT’s announcement that it will conduct an audit of apprentice supervision.

Apprentices in the ACT are seriously injured at between two-to-three times the rate of adult workers, and UnionsACT research shows that 70 percent of young workers have been forced to work in unsafe conditions.

Last year, an apprentice and a work experience student on Master Builders programs were seriously injured, after they were left unsupervised.

Government data (AVETARS 12/5/2017) shows that almost half (44 percent) of all apprentices in Group Training Organisations, and half (49 percent) of RTO apprentices cancel their apprenticeship before completion, with the rate higher in construction (54 percent), horticulture (60 percent) and automotive (83 percent). Lack of supervision, risk of serious injury and exposure to bullying, mistreatment and abuse by employers and hosts, low wages and wage-theft are contributing factors to apprentice cancellations.

The Work Safe ACT audit will commence in August and continue to the end of October.

Failures by regulators at a Federal and ACT level had contributed to a culture where adult employers could exploit and steal from young workers without consequence. Working in unsafe workplaces was also common for young workers aged under 18 (children), despite additional ACT laws designed to protect child employees.

The following quotes are attributable to Alex White, secretary of UnionsACT:

“It is welcome news that after years of advocacy by unions, Work Safe ACT is finally conducting an audit of apprentice safety and supervision.

“For too long, the inaction by regulators has given a green light to dodgy employers, hosts and GTOs to callously mistreat apprentices.

“We remain concerned that Skills Canberra refuses to include workplace safety as a mandatory funding criteria for apprentice RTOs and GTOs. This means that ACT taxpayers are funding dodgy employers who mistreat apprentices.

“It is unacceptable that many employers think it is OK to put apprentices at risk, mistreat them or under pay them.”

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