25 March 2020

This is awful: “More than 2 million Australians could be out of work, with unemployment expected to soar as businesses begin shutting their doors and standing down or sacking workers because of the coronavirus pandemic. Queues of laid-off staff snaked around blocks in Melbourne and Sydney on Monday in scenes reminiscent of the Great Depression. Under unprecedented sudden demand, the Centrelink website crashed and phone lines jammed.” As Greg Jericho points out, this context “highlights the absurdity of the actual term [‘unemployed’]. To be unemployed is to be ‘actively looking for work’. But just what work is there to look for right now? Not only are businesses not hiring, many are being forced to not operate. Around 10% of job vacancies each month are for retail trade and 7% are for accommodation and food services, and another 1.5% for arts and recreation. None of these industries is hiring — other than a few supermarkets looking for some extra staff to help pack shelves.” Yet the government has only suspended so-called mutual obligation requirements for a week, until its website is accessible again!

Please: The Australian Unemployed Workers Union does an excellent job representing and campaigning for the rights of unemployed people — everyone who remains in work should join as a supporter and set up a recurring donation.