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Government’s inaction on young workers’ struggles having abhorrent results

By William Olson  

A recent run of statistics regarding Australia’s young people in the workforce, occurring prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic, reveal an alarming trend towards record levels of unemployment and under-employment for men and women in that demographic.

And with that, it only highlights the growing inequality happening within the country.

Citing a current national average of 12 workers vying for every available job, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) points out that the job market for the 15-to-24-year-old demographic is at a 42-year low since the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) started tracking such data in 1978.

With regard to unemployment and under-employment figures for that demographic, 37.8 per cent of young workers are either out of work or looking for more hours at work, with many of them only clinging onto their jobs via the Morrison government’s JobKeeper scheme.

“Young people are facing conditions that we haven’t seen since the 1970s. They need support from the Government to ensure that they come out of this pandemic with a job,” Michele O’Neil, the ACTU’s president, said when the ABS statistics were released.

“What they are getting instead is baseless assertions from the Morrison Government that they aren’t taking their opportunities. The data clearly shows these opportunities are a figment of the Government’s imagination,” she added.

O’Neil also implores those within the government to act on extending or increasing the JobKeeper and JobSeeker schemes before they are due to expire within the next three months.

“Cutting JobKeeper in September would be a catastrophe for the millions of Australian workers who are currently using it to pay their bills and rent,” said O’Neil.

“We need leadership and a plan for job creation from this Government, not a tired rerun of blaming unemployed young people for the fact they can’t find a job,” she added.

The ACTU also points out that a greater concentration of the unemployment and under-employment problem as it pertains to young workers lies in regional areas, such as in regional Queensland and regional Tasmania.

The ACTU, while foreshadowing an unveiling of its plan to inspire an employment revival in those areas next week, has also hit out at the government for not addressing the issue, nor for having a plan which inspires unemployment numbers to drop in those regions.

“Our message to Australians in regional Queensland and Tasmania is this: The Morrison government needs to step up and deliver a comprehensive plan to protect and create jobs. The Australian union movement has a comprehensive plan for jobs that will rebuild our economy in the aftermath of the pandemic and the government are welcome to use it as a starting point,” O’Neil has declared.

“If the Commonwealth government won’t provide leadership on this, Australian unions will,” she added.

Exploitation among international students is also ripe on top of the frustrations of young workers. A survey of over 5000 international students at the University of New South Wales and the University of Technology Sydney has come to the following conclusions surrounding wage theft and poor employment conditions and entitlements:

  • Three out of every four students surveyed are being paid below the legal minimum wage, per the National Employment Standards set out by the Fair Work Commission;
  • One of every four students surveyed are even being paid less than $12 per hour;
  • During the pandemic, international students have had their superannuation stolen;
  • These students have had to wait in long lines at food banks in order to survive;
  • And two out of every three international students surveyed did not seek information or help at work, because of “visa concerns or fear of job loss”.

Tony Burke, in his role as shadow minister for industrial relations, says that the findings of the survey have an impact on all workers within Australia, and not just the demographic of younger workers.

“Exploitation of people on temporary visas puts downward pressure on wages of all workers in Australia. Just like temporary migrants, Australians are experiencing wage theft on a wide scale which makes the first recession in 29 years even more challenging for hard-working Australians and their families,” said Burke.

Kristina Keneally, the ALP’s deputy Senate leader and the shadow minister for immigration and citizenship, concurs with Burke and his views to interpret the study.

“When the coronavirus pandemic began, Scott Morrison said we were all in this in together but the experiences of international students in Australia paints a vastly different picture,” said Keneally.

“Unlike Scott Morrison, Labor will always speak out against the exploitation of workers – including the exploitation of international students – expose it and organise against it,” she added.

That sense of determination from the opposition can only help in arresting the inequalities of younger workers and international students. Now to get assistance of effort from others of similar interests.

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9 comments

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  1. andy56

    Surprise, surprise surprise. It took an eternity for people to see the bleeding obvious. THERE ARE NO JOBS. Young or old, your expendable and superfluous. Treated like shit, just look at the rate of unemployment benefits and the pension. The in-betweeners can be squeezed and manipulated to work hard. They then have to compete with any basic AI thats cheap. You can see where this will ultimately end. Less and less in-betweeners supporting more and more people.
    AI is the next China. We exported all our jobs to china, now that we have exhausted that folly, we will export all our jobs to AI. Its an end game unless we change coarse.
    Not saying AI isnt usefull, just saying its a good tool but a danger if we run to its agenda not ours.

  2. andy56

    Of coarse in the mean time , lets exploit china and all that cheap labour that the students bring. What can go wrong? The Covid 19 virus has brought into sharp contrast that which we do in the dark.

  3. Phil

    Like this government gives a flying f@#% about workers. The irony is, a percentage of those workers must love their situation. Well they must do, they keep endorsing everything these toe rags are doing to them. If the Eden Monaro by election notwithstanding Labor retained it, doesn’t scream out gross stupidity of the masses, I don’t know what does. Labor should have walked this by election, with what has transpired over the tenure of this mob of babbling baboons masquerading as a government. Not long now and the extra loot some of the workers are getting will be shut off, the mortgage foreclosures will soon start in earnest and the food banks, will be the new go to supermarkets. Some of them have been dipping into their Superannuation, keeping in mind the Morrison’s government if they get their way, will can the old age pension for a lot of the Millennials and Generation Z. We may yet see a whole new generation of tent dwellers. Still it may bring out some lost skills, like how to trap a rabbit, change a spark plug. Who knows?

  4. Jack sprat

    Job keeper, job seeker, snap back And I will give you job weeper. .(Scotty from marketing )

  5. tom baxter

    -andy56: “Of coarse in the mean time , lets exploit china and all that cheap labour ”

    Jobs never came back in Ancient Rome either once they filled the nation with slaves. We have progressively employed slaves as well, it’s just that they live in China and south east asia, India and the like. We don’t see them, but the principle is the same. Unemployed Roman’s were given bread and wine (the dole) and kept amused by circuses. They didn’t have foot ball motor racing or cricket but they did what they could with gladiators.

    Rome had a population of around 650,000 when Julius Caesar came to power and at that time there were 320,000 persons on the dole, “grain relief”. cite: fee.org/

    He halved that figure, God knows how, but that was as good as it ever got.

  6. andy56

    Tom, history is a good teacher. And you know, doing the same thing over and over shows we aint that smart after all. That inbuilt stupidity gene keeps popping up. Doesnt matter what form society takes, that gene keeps expressing itself leading to self destruction. Empires or democracy, means nothing. What makes us all think we can break out of the cycle? Certainly makes you think that predetermined destiny has something going for it, lol

  7. tom baxter

    andy56:

    I believe it’s the nature of psychopaths to work their way to the top of any government or empire, and if not all psychopaths then at lest the most greedy and morally bankrupt members of society. In our days they call them players, honest decent people rarely get a look in.

  8. DrakeN

    More to the point, tom baxter, most honest, decent people don’t want a ‘look in’.

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