Photos by Chris Peterson
About 600 people rallied in Melbourne on October 19 to raise awareness of the link between the growing number of people in insecure work and the growing number of working people living in poverty.
The rally was called by the National Union of Workers (NUW) during Anti-Poverty Week as part of the NUW’s “jobs you can count on” campaign.
Members of other unions — such as the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Electrical Trades Union, the Australian Nurses Federation, the National Tertiary Education Union and the Australian Services Union — also joined the rally.
Charles Firth, previously of The Chaser, ran a game of “insecure musical chairs” to symbolise the precarious conditions many Australian workers labour under.
NUW Victorian Secretary Tim Kennedy said the recent Australian Bureau of Statistics report “Life on Struggle Street”, found a staggering 825,000 Australian households are considered to be “low economic resource households”, even though the main source of their incomes are salary and wages.
“What workers tell us is that they are moved from job to job sometimes waiting on a text message to know if they have a shift the next day,” said Kennedy. “That they are ‘no longer required’ by a labour-hire agency after being injured at work; that they cannot even apply for a mortgage to buy a home because they are casual.
“The ever increasing trend to casualisation means the number of working poor in Australia continues to grow, hidden within a low unemployment rate that fails to sound the alarm on the rate of underemployment and hardship.”
[For more details about the campaign, visit jobsyoucancounton.com.au.]
Billy Bragg performs in solidarity with The NUW for Flouro Fightback on the morning of October 19 at the steps of Southern Cross Station in Melbourne.