1 in 5 jobless or underemployed in 'Lucky Country'

November 8, 2013

This is the Lucky Country, right? The Lucky Country that escaped the recession after the global financial crisis. The Lucky Country where a mining heiress’s wealth grows by $650 a second. Where banks break new profit records, year after year.

Not so “lucky” for some though.

An ongoing Roy Morgan survey found 2.41 million people in Australia (19.3% of the workforce) were unemployed or underemployed in October. An estimated 1.33 million (10.7% of the workforce) of these were unemployed.

The Roy Morgan unemployment rate is 5% higher than the official unemployment rate calculated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The gap between these two estimates of unemployment has grown sharply over the past two years. Roy Morgan Research executive chairperson Gary Morgan said “the Abbott government needs to immediately establish a working committee to demand the ABS release the true and complete unemployment figures each month.”

These shocking statistics came out as the Coalition government intensified its public service job cuts.

The Canberra Times said on November 8: “Women, junior staff and the lowest-paid public servants will bear the brunt of an order to start sacking the federal government’s 14,000 temporary workers, an analysis of government workplace statistics shows.

“Graduate and indigenous recruitment will be slashed and hiring will be frozen across the bureaucracy with a challenging process to be followed before any new public servants can be hired.

“The Public Service Commission has issued orders to departmental bosses not to renew any temporary contracts or casual positions and to begin sacking 'non-ongoing' workers. There are 14,273 temporary staff in the service across Australia, according to the latest figures from the commission, with 60 per cent of them women, 75 per cent of them earning $42,000 a year or less and 25 per cent under 25 years old.”

The Abbott government's target is to slash 12,000 jobs in two years.

On the same day, the Sydney Morning Herald said that as part of the cuts to “non-ongoing” public service workers, nearly a quarter of scientists, researchers and workers in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) will be sacked.

This is a chilling warning to the 40% of workers in Australia now forced to survive through insecure and non-permanent jobs.

Combine this with spiraling levels of household debt (as housing prices shoot through the roof, enriching developers, landlords and real estate agents) and you begin to understand the fear and insecurity that stalks many people even in the “Lucky Country”.

But it doesn't have to be like this. We don't have to live in a Lucky-Just-For-Some Country. Wealth and work can be shared around. Useful and secure jobs can be created in an urgently needed transition to a climate safe future and in programs to provide services that serve communities and not profit-greedy corporations.

If you agree with this vision, then you should help Green Left build the people's movement that can turn it into a reality. You can do this by taking out a Solidarity Subscription or making a donation online to the fighting fund. Direct deposits can also be made to Greenleft, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account No. 00901992. Otherwise, you can send a cheque or money order to PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007 or donate on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia).

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