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Issue #1693      July 15, 2015

“The unemployed deserve better than this!”

Young Communists campaign against Jobactive

Young communists are actively campaigning against the Abbott government’s Jobactive system. Jobactive gives private contractors – dominated by two multi-national corporations – $5.1 billion over three years to manage the lives of the unemployed.

The scheme comes in at a time when more than 750,000 people are registered as out of work, a million more are underemployed, a quarter of unemployed jobseekers have been out of work for a year or more and there are 11 people seeking work for every vacancy that becomes available.

Jobactive is the government’s substitute for a real jobs creation policy. It seeks to put the blame for unemployment on the unemployed, and to take the spotlight off any failure of government or the capitalist market, to create full employment.

“Jobactive is not about creating work and getting people into jobs,” says Hayden Sofa, a TAFE student in western Sydney, who is coordinating the Young Communists’ campaign in Sydney. “It is about private ‘employment service’ operators using the unemployed to generate profits and to undercut the wages and conditions of those who do have work.”

Young Communists are campaigning around the punishing aspects of Jobactive, such as its provisions for job agencies to fine jobseekers $50 or more if they miss interviews, as well as its work for the dole provisions.

“Jobactive contractors profit by keeping job seekers in an endless process of pointless appointments, unpaid work activities, short term subsidised work and irrelevant training,” Sofa told the Guardian. “Jobactive makes unemployment itself a full time ‘job’.”

“It also gives corporations unprecedented power to compel and punish job seekers to enforce this process. This and the incentive to create a series of short term, part-time jobs out of what would otherwise be one full time job, gives the system vast scope for abuse and fraud”.

Young Communists have started their campaign against Jobactive with pickets outside Centrelink offices and private employment agencies in Liverpool and Campbelltown. They will target more centres throughout metropolitan Sydney over the next few weeks.

Picketers are handing out flyers, as well as engaging in conversations with job seekers and encouraging them to become active in taking up the campaign.

Young communists are particularly interested in hearing from jobseekers of their experiences with their job contractors, with their placements in subsidised work, as well as any experiences they may have with work-for-the-dole, including its “premium” Greencorps program.

“Fight the Fine” and more

They are supporting campaigns to “Fight the Fine” launched by the Unemployed Union of Australia and the Anti-Poverty Network (South Australia) and call for this campaign to be broadened to pick up other aspects of Jobactive and the attacks being launched on this coming generation of the workforce.

“Challenging Jobactive, along with attacks on penalty work rates, high fees for vocational courses and attacks on labour rights are among our highest priorities in defending young workers, whether they are seeking work, in part-time work, studying or already in full-time jobs,” says Sofa.

He says the unemployed and the broader labour movement need to unite in a strong front against neo-liberal policies of austerity and punishment for workers:

“Jobactive, which includes a greatly expanded work-for-the-dole component, as well as its revolving door of short term subsidised jobs and unpaid ‘work experience’ directly threatens the security, conditions and pay of those with regular jobs,” he says. “Already there are reports of councils in regional areas sacking their current outdoor staff so they can replace them with work-for-the-dole conscripts.”

Young workers can also be at the forefront in working with the broader labour movement and communities in pushing for genuine job creation policies.

“Society has plenty of infrastructure and social services priorities that need investment and a skilled workforce to create a better future,” says Hayden. “Most urgently, we need jobs and investment to transition from a fossil fuel based consumer economy to an environmentally sustainable society!”

Young Communists call for:

  • Real jobs, not work-for-the-dole!
  • Stop punishing the unemployed – drop the fines!
  • Take back employment services from private operators!

To contact Young Communists phone: 02 9699 8844, email info@cpa.org, or go to Young Communists League of Australia on Facebook.

Next article – For an independent foreign policy – IPAN statement Brisbane National Conference

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