The Perth branch of the Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU) launched the “Dump your demerit points” campaign on July 20 at the Perth Trades Hall.
It was part of a national campaign to educate members on how to fight back against the punitive new Demerit Points System, which was introduced to all job agencies by the Turnbull government on July 1. The new system means unemployed workers attending private job agencies have been stripped of their right to appeal against financial penalties for alleged job search requirement breaches to the government social welfare agency Centrelink.
AUWU national president Owen Bennett slammed the government for deliberately creating large pools of unemployed and underemployed workers. He said: “The labour market was like a game of musical chairs where 17 people were competing for one job. That’s the government’s official figures of the labour market, but in reality it can be up to 200 people competing for one job. We have basically been set up to fail, and have been shut out of jobs and that is very deliberate.”
Bennett said there were two reasons for the introduction of the new system. The first was to shift the failings of the economy from the government to the unemployed, who would be punished for being unable to find work. The second reason was because it was good for business, and it would help drive down unemployed workers’ wages and conditions down.
Bennett urged unemployed people to support the campaign by recording all their interactions with job agencies, writing all their complaints and complaining to all relevant bodies.
The meeting also heard speakers from Unions WA and the Welfare and Advocacy Service WA, who expressed their support for the campaign and urged people to get involved. The next meeting of the Perth Branch of the AUWU will be held at Perth Trades Hall, 80 Beaufort Street. To find about more the AUWU visit unemployedworkersunion.com.