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PIAA calls for industry to embrace gig economy

Friday, 15 February 2019
By Wayne Robinson

Gig economy for print: PIAA calling for reform

The peak print industry association PIAA is calling for the government to allow industry to embrace the gig economy, saying it will lead to innovation, efficiencies, and benefits for both business and workers.

The PIAA says the current employment framework is too restrictive in the modern era, and is calling for businesses and workers to be free to work out their own terms of engagement.

Andrew Macaulay, CEO of the PIAA says, “The gig economy in other sectors is delivering benefits to both workers and business, both of whom want the freedom to operate according to their own choices.

Gig economy benefits all: Andrew Macaulay, CEO PIAA

“For the worker for instance he or she may say to a print business owner that they are available to work every evening Monday to Thursday 6pm to midnight and anytime Sunday, because that fits in with the rest of their life. The business owner may say great, we have a big job going through, come in on Tues and Weds evening this week, and every evening next week.”

Macaulay points to the success of other industries such as the taxi sector in using gig, or on demand, working. He said, “I took an Uber the other day where the driver was a guy on his commute home. On the Gold Coast it has been virtually impossible to get a taxi before Uber, now you can get one in ten seconds, and the drivers are often senior citizens working a couple of afternoons a week to supplement their income.

“The gig economy in the taxi industry has not just fixed the service levels, it has given people choice and opportunity to work on their own terms. The print industry – businesses and workers – will benefit from being able to work on their own terms.”

Macaulay says the PIAA is not calling for the end of the Award system, but says reform is necessary to enable small to medium sized print businesses to grow.

The print industry has traditionally worked with casual staff, particularly in the lower paid bindery area, and that is currently a major issue for print – and all industries – as the definition of casual and the terms around it are under review, with business claiming that the latest ruling means that casual are effectively double dipping by being paid a higher casual rate and now having holiday and other benefits.

Macaulay told Print21, “There is a problem with the Fair Work Commission, or one person there who has made an interpretation and imposed it on business.

“Entrepreneurial people who are investing in their business, and therefore the Australian economy, and working people who want to work according to their own particular situations should be free to work it out between themselves for what suits themselves in their own lives.”

Yesterday former union boss and now senator, Doug Cameron,  who is part of Federal Opposition moved to “disallow” regulation that would protect small and family businesses from double dipping casuals.The PIAA says that if successful, unions across Australia could seek to make claims for casual employees to receive both a casual loading and annual leave. It says this would result in chaos and uncertainty for small businesses, and smaller family owned printing businesses across Australia.

“The entire situation creates an enormous, and unnecessary uncertainty and stress for small businesses in an area that is already tricky to navigate without specialist help”, said Macaulay. “It beggars belief that Doug Cameron can move to disallow a regulation aimed at protecting family businesses from a clearly unreasonable legal obligation. A fair definition of a fair pay for fair work would not include double dipping”

The gig economy is not without its critics, who say it is weighed too heavily in favour of business owners, and provides little in the way of benefits or security to workers. Macaulay says, “I know there are issues, but they can certainly be worked out in a responsible way.”

The PIAA’s new Industrial Advocate Sam Puri has weighed in on the debate following publication of an interview with Uber’s Australia managing director Susan Anderson in the AFR who called for flexibility in labour laws. Puri said, “Flexibility in the gig economy means rethinking the workplace laws. Entrepreneurial small businesses are the growth engine of the Australian economy, whether it is a print business or a tradie. Small businesses take risks and as they grow, they create jobs, they invest, they provide income to employees and suppliers and they pay taxes to support the community’s needs.

“Most printing businesses are small to medium sized companies, usually family owned, which require a flexible framework to cope with the natural ebb and flow of incoming work.

It is time Australia’s outdated employment laws were designed to support the growth of small businesses, by encouraging direct engagement between small businesses and their employees, casuals and contractors to produce flexible work practices and productive work arrangements.

“The current model that only allows either employee status or independent contractor, with no middle ground does not suit where the economy has evolved. The Government needs to catch up the reality of business in Australia.”

Employment laws outdated: Sam Puri, industrial advocate, PIAA


3 Responses to “PIAA calls for industry to embrace gig economy”

  1. February 15, 2019 at 2:15 pm,


    Another great idea from the PIAA – NO
    Obviously the PIAA has no idea how difficult it is for companies to get skilled labour for permanent positions, let alone casual roles as the gig economy would provide.
    The market rates for labour in the printing industry is well below most other trades, and we are already losing our skilled workforce to other industries and occupations. Take away permanent employment and we will lose even more.
    Comparing the skills required in printing to UBER and Taxi drivers is a nonsense.
    I suggest the PIAA employees are paid on a gig rate. The savings for their members would be huge.

  2. February 20, 2019 at 3:11 pm,


    One thing for PIAA & their gigs…Get Staffed!!!

  3. February 22, 2019 at 11:19 am,

    Stephanie Gaddin

    Hi Chris, thank you for your response and insights on this article.

    The PIAA strives to represent our members, who are predominantly small businesses and as such advocate strongly for policies that make sense to all stakeholders.

    Doing away with permanent employment does not make sense, to us or the market – but neither does ignoring the flexibility offered by the “gig economy”. Ultimately if a person wants to work in a gig job, because it suits their life choices, then they should be allowed to do so, with a level of protections that make sense in the context of their “job”.
    This framework however, currently doesn’t exist in any industry, print or otherwise – and ultimately it is this action that we are advocating from the government.

    Permanent employment, casual employment, and flexible “gig” employment are certainly not mutually exclusive.

    Again – thanks for commenting – appreciate your insights.

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