Australia's latest official unemployment figures only confirmed what everyone already knew — jobs are being destroyed by the thousands.
The announcement of Toyota's plan to close down car-making, after a decision by General Motors Holden and Ford to do the same, dominated the headlines. But a host of other lesser known manufacturing companies are also shutting down.
An unemployment rate of 6% and rising is not as bad as in other parts of the world, but it doesn't tell the full story.
Full-time jobs are going and the growth of part-time jobs is not keeping up. The Australian Bureau of Statistics found that in January, full-time employment dropped 7100 to 7,953,000 while part-time employment rose 3400 to 3,506,500.
Last year, an ongoing study commissioned by the Australian Council of Trade Unions found that in Australia, only about 60% of workers are in full or ongoing part-time employment. That leaves about 40% in insecure work.
And the insecurity is getting worse every day. Well, unless you are a banker. The latest news is Commonwealth Bank's first-half profit has surged 16% to $4.2 billion and other banks are expected to do as well. Actually, the profits of all the big banks have been breaking records year after year.
There is a direct link between the soaring profits of the banks and unemployment and it is revealed in the Commonwealth Bank's latest result. The main source of the latest profit rise has been “cost cutting”.
It sounds impersonal and technical but it translates to cutting jobs, shifting to more part-time, casual and poorer-paid labour.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his neo-conservative ministers are quick to lecture us that the solution is to leave it to “the market” and to “growing the economy”.
But the Australian economy has been growing for most of the last two decades and bipartisan leaving-it-to-the-market policies have created more job insecurity, destroyed public services, kept the mining billionaires on corporate welfare even through a mining boom and, to cap it off, imperiled the environment.
In nearly 1000 issues since it first came out in 1991, Green Left Weekly has battled to tear down the veils that hide what is really going on here: the capitalist system that has made a tiny rich minority richer than ever before in history.
Today, the case that this system is irrational, cruel, destructive and untenable is more widely accepted. And this is not surprising. When the world's 85 richest people own as much as the world's 5.5 billion poorest, surely it is time to recognise that we need to build a new system.
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