As millions of workers across the country face cuts to hours and job losses, United Workers Union has today outlined an emergency plan of what working people need from the Federal Government to get through the COVID-19 crisis.
The United Workers Union is calling for every person irrespective of their citizenship or visa status to receive either a Jobs Guarantee or an Emergency Income Guarantee, along with a raft of other important actions to ensure we can all get through the COVID-19 crisis together.
National Secretary Tim Kennedy said: “We stand in solidarity with the entirety of the union movement in calling for a Jobs Guarantee backed by an 80 per cent wage subsidy to keep people in jobs.
“We also recognise that too many Australians are underemployed, unemployed and have already been laid off. That’s why we want to see every member of our community, not otherwise supported through the Jobs Guarantee, receive an Income Guarantee payment of $740.80 per week (minimum wage) for the duration of the crisis.
“In addition, to assist our most vulnerable, we are also calling for the tax-free threshold to increase to $25,000, and a moratorium on rent and mortgage payments.”
Mr Kennedy also called for fairer measures for migrant workers, including visa holders and undocumented workers.
“We are calling for a visa amnesty for migrant workers, and an end to visa enforcement and detention actions by the Department of Home Affairs,” he said.
“We also believe Medicare access should be extended to everyone currently in Australia, including visa holders and undocumented workers.
“During a time of crisis and insecurity, basic security is a natural public good. As a society we all gain from the rest of us having security. Knowing that we are going to be looked after helps us to look after others.
“Despite almost daily announcements of government actions to address the crisis, we as a community are seeing whole segments of our society being left behind to suffer unnecessarily in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
“The political choices we make as a nation now are important. As people are losing their jobs, being stood down, lining up for welfare at Centrelink and living in fear of losing their housing, we must remember that all of this suffering is a political choice. None of it needs to happen.”
United Workers Union’s plan to get through the COVID-19 crisis includes:
What Australian workers need:
– A jobs guarantee to be upheld by all employers; no layoffs during this time even if shifts are unavailable. Workers to resume work when shifts are needed again.
– An income guarantee payment of $740.80 per week (minimum wage) to everyone except those covered by the jobs guarantee, or others who have not been financially disadvantaged by COVID-19.
– The provisional tax-free threshold to increase from $18,200 to $25,000 to assist the lowest income earners in the country.
– A moratorium on rent and mortgage payments.
What our country needs:
– A visa amnesty for migrant workers and an end to visa enforcement and detention actions by the Department of Home Affairs.
– Medicare access to be extended to everyone currently in Australia including visa holders and undocumented workers.
– A commitment to zero tolerance for xenophobic nationalism or attacks on migrant communities as a result of the crisis.
What our economy needs:
– New renewable energy generation and export infrastructure to be included as a vital component of any COVID-19 stimulus package going forward.
– Don’t bailout essential sectors—buy them. Bring public goods back into public ownership.
– Bailout necessary industries only—with strict conditions of worker co-determination, ethical labour and environmental standards.