This thesis examines the impact of contracting on the employment conditions of external periphery workers. It specifically examines the experiences of three groups of contractors in the Queensland public health industry. The study proposes that, in addition to the division between standard ('core') employees and contractors, there is a division between the skilled and the semi-skilled external periphery with respect to pay, security, control, training and development, occupational health and safety, and other employee benefits.
The selection of these conditions was based on the review of the literature and the issues were raised within the research. The occupations investigated were radiography (skilled), cleaning and catering (both semi-skilled). The research found that there were significant differences between the conditions experienced by radiographers and those experienced by cleaning and catering contractors. A division also existed between contract workers and standard Queensland Health employees, but this was moderated between standard employees and the skilled external periphery (radiographers). The findings propose implications for the inferior quality of service provided by external periphery workers due to poor management and worker disassociation, and the importance of trade unionism to counter the use of contractual arrangements as well as moderate the effect of contracting on standard and non-standard workers.
The results of this study suggest that higher levels of skill and unionisation may improve the reality faced by and the experiences of contractors regarding their employment. Future research that broadens the scope and range of this study would be rewarding in gaining further understanding of contracting in the Australian workforce.