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Issue #1932      September 14, 2020

Australia’s Covid-19 sparked recession –

Now is not the time to scale back Jobkeeper

Statement by United Workers’ Union

Workers, who have been left in the lurch with a reduced rate and even harsher eligibility as JobKeeper changes were passed in Parliament yesterday [1st September], have today learned of Australia’s first recession in thirty years.

JobKeeper changes are due to come into effect nationwide in less than four weeks’ time, despite the fact Melbourne is currently still under strict lockdown and the threat of COVID-19 remains across the country.

Employers have also been given the power to cut workers’ hours even if revenue has nearly returned to pre-COVID operations.

From 28th September, payments for part-timers (working less than twenty hours) will fall to $750 a fortnight from the end of the month, then to $650 a fortnight at the start of next year.

The full-time JobKeeper payment will fall to $1,200 a fortnight, followed by a further drop at the beginning of January 2021 to $1,000.

These changes during this unprecedented economic and public health crisis will cost jobs, livelihoods and destroy communities.

Sydney hospitality worker Melissa said, “With the changes to JobKeeper, I will go from having enough income to survive with three children, to having to decide what bill won’t be paid so I can feed them.

“I’ve withdrawn super, I’ve cut off all non-necessities, I’m budgeting every cent already. I have applied for over 100 jobs – it is not easy to get another job when so many other people are all doing the same thing.

“I have worked and paid tax for 20 years, this is the first time I find myself needing help and it’s a terrifying place to be. We work, we vote, and we need help to get through this hard time in our lives.”

It remains unclear whether Melissa’s workplace will be eligible for JobKeeper past September 28. Her story is only one of the thousands of workers who are facing uncertain and dire consequences.

United Workers’ Union National Secretary Tim Kennedy said, “Now is not the time to scale back JobKeeper. Workers have reached out to Scott Morrison and the federal government over the past few months to say they’re hurting, and they can’t afford to be left even further behind. Their calls for help have fallen on deaf ears.

“This government needed to expand JobKeeper not strip it back while we’re still in the middle of this crisis. Now we have workers facing a reduced rate that’s below the minimum wage or who will be removed from the scheme altogether.

“They will join casuals working less than 12 months, temporary visa workers and international students as workers who have been left behind by this government.”

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