It’s tough out there for day labourers.
There are more people looking for casual work than there are jobs, and most temporary gigs take days or even weeks to pay after the work is done.
That’s been the experience of part-time job seeker Tyler Heward, a 36-year-old who specializes in stone masonry and construction.
Heward also isn’t happy about employment agencies taking a cut of his earnings, which is why he’s turned to the recently relocated Community Casual Labour Pool run by Cool Aid.
It matches temporary workers like him with employers who pay workers at the end of every day.
“The Community Casual Labour Pool doesn’t take anything,” Heward said, admitting he suffers from occasional mental health problems that hinder his ability to hold a long-term job.
“It all goes directly to us,” he said, claiming he and people like him work harder when they get to keep all the money they’ve earned.
That extra effort pays off because employers often ask for the same people by name when they need help again, Heward said. Some of his buddies have even found full-time employment as a result of using the non-profit’s service, he added.
The agency moved its labour pool to 823 Broughton Street, from Cool Aid’s former location on Johnson Street.
Like all temporary help agencies where people looking for work arrive in the morning and during the day, job seekers fill out a registration form that outlines what their skills are before being sent out, says Wendy Stone, the community casual labour pool program coordinator.
The labour pool isn’t well known among employers that need casual labour help and only gets a handful of jobs in every day, she said. Stone said the average pay workers receive is around $15 per hour, though journeymen tradespeople can earn more than $20 per hour.
Part of a decade-old program offered by Cool Aid, Heward said nobody is sent out from the labour pool unless they’re mentally stable and physically able to do the job that’s available. The Resources, Education, Employment and Support program, known by the acronym REES, was started in 1999 by people living with mental illness and addiction problems who believed they could still make important contributions to society.
The community employment pool office serves all people looking for casual work. Their office provides free phone and computer service to help job seekers contact potential employers, she said. In some cases it provides bus tickets and even proper work clothes.
Stone said those using her agency to find casual workers range from construction companies that suddenly need labourers to little old ladies who need somebody for a couple of hours to cut the grass, rake leaves or even clean their homes – and who pay the people they hire at end of the day.
As well as providing daily cash to eat and put a roof over their heads, she said temporary jobs give people a sense of self-esteem and dignity, as well as work experience and employer contacts.
There is a two-hour job minimum.
Registered workers can either phone in or check-in person on days they are available to work.
Several hundred people every year get casual jobs through the community labour pool – more than 500 last year.
What kind of work?
Work available through the Community Casual Labour Pool includes: site clean-up, plumbing, landscaping, concrete, house cleaning, moving, painting, landscaping, roofing as well as odd jobs.
Temporary job companies
Victoria daily labour companies in addition to the Community Casual Labour Pool in Victoria:
• Labour Unlimited, 1732 Douglas.
Recommends arrival at 6 a.m. Usual pay $10 hourly
• Rhino Labour Temp Services, 110-2950 Douglas Street.
Recommends arrival at 5:30 a.m. Usual pay $10 hourly
• Online daily labour sources: Craigslist Victoria jobs and Used Victoria jobs.