Down with work for the dole

Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance released this statement on May 30. *** The federal Coalition government plans to ramp up Work for the Dole for job seekers under 30. From July 1, it will apply in 18 high unemployment regions across Australia, and will be rolled out nationwide from July 1 next year. The program, which was initiated under the John Howard government, forces long-term unemployed young people (those who have been receiving Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance for more than 12 months) to work 15 hours a week for six months. Refusal to work could result in being penalised one tenth of their fortnightly payment for every day absent, which will cut deep into wages that are already below the poverty line. This is not a choice for young Australians. This is a threat, it is forced labour, and it is wrong. Recent high-profile corporate announcements of mass redundancies and decreasing rates of university graduate employment demonstrate that it is increasingly hard for both unskilled and well-educated people to find work. Despite this, young people are once again being told it is their fault they cannot find work, and it is time to stop being lazy and lift themselves up. This is a slap in the face to young unemployed people across the nation, made worse by a budget that cuts 16,500 public service jobs, but has no significant plans to create other jobs. This is accompanied by factory closures in traditionally working-class communities, such as Geelong. The government is cutting programs that are actually helping disadvantaged youth in favour of a scheme that experts say will not reduce unemployment. The budget also includes a six-month waiting period before young people can receive unemployment benefits, and will be able to receive payments for only six months before they are cut off again. This cycle of six months with, six months without continues until they get a job or turn 30. Unemployment is not the result of young people being lazy. Rather, it is the result of greedy companies trying to get more bang for their buck by sacking workers and “streamlining” production. They need to generate the largest possible profits for majority shareholders. The livelihoods of young people do not matter compared with this. This is just another ploy by the anti-worker government to reduce the conditions of workers everywhere by targeting youth. Young workers being forced to take lower wages through Work for the Dole will undermine the bargaining position of ordinary workers, further putting power into the hands of the bosses and their mates in government. This government has young people in its sights. This assault on the rights of young workers and the unemployed is accompanied by a renewed assault on university and TAFE students as well as apprentices, who all face fee hikes and service cuts in a renewed wave of austerity. Young people must not accept forced labour and instead come together in schools, neighbourhoods and workplaces to organise to resist these attacks. Young people need a comprehensive program of green jobs and jobs in the social services, on full wages and benefits. They need free skill training and tertiary education to be better equipped for the future. Young people will keep organising and struggling, be it on university campuses, at high schools or in the streets, until this program, as well as this horror budget and this horror government, are thrown out.