By Kathy New
"It is your choice", I am told as I begin to tune out to yet another lecture as part of my "mutual obligation" activities. "But if you do choose to leave, you should be aware that your benefits may be suspended." Some choice!
It is just one of the many "choices" we are able to make in the "free market" — which has been extended to government unemployment schemes. Since the training and case management have been privatised, I am now "the client".
Well, we may be able to choose between different "agencies", but at the end of the day, the real choice is pretty much non-existent. If I want to "choose" a real job, with decent conditions that guarantees a livable income and real control over my life, I will be disappointed.
As I sit through yet another lecture on how to "compete" in the "job market", I ask myself: Why should I have to compete to get a job? There are plenty of jobs that need doing. But under capitalism, jobs are not created because they are needed; they are created (or abolished) by those who own the companies on the basis of how much profit margins can be improved.
Of course, competition for scarce jobs boosts profits. As hundreds of thousands of people compete and are demoralised by the endless stream of rejections, those who are employed are forced accept lower wages and poorer conditions.
There is also the constant pressure on those who already have jobs to work harder and longer (for less pay); otherwise they might be replaced by someone from the dole queue (or the work for the dole scheme).
This "mutual obligation" deal doesn't really add up. While they tell me that I have to sit through these endless training sessions, work for the dole, sit aptitude tests and so on, the government is doing nothing to create real jobs. It's not fulfilling its obligation to us!
There are plenty of jobs to be done and millions of people who could be doing useful work. This waste of human potential will continue for as long as the profits-first system, capitalism, exists.
Capitalism is obligated to exploit us in its drive for profits — our obligation is to fight for a society that will value everybody's contribution and benefit everybody.